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Immigration

 

Kim Davis – Let me show you what persecution looks like

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

KimDavisABClargeON US TV today (Sept. 22), the clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to ANY couple because she didn’t believe in same sex marriage has said what hurts her most about how she has been treated since she defied the Supreme Court ruling on marriage in June – being called ‘a hypocrite’.

Kim Davis of Rowan County, Kentucky, has been jailed, received a ‘Religious Liberty’ award for fighting ‘legal tyranny’, been called ‘the bravest woman in America‘ and compared to Abraham Lincoln by her lawyer. She has also been called a martyr and a victim of anti-Christian persecutionShe even admitted denying marriage licences to friends, and receiving death threats.

All because she believes in her Christian duty to break the oath she took as a US Government official to uphold the law, in a country whose constitution explicitly forbids the primacy of any religion. The First Amendment clearly states that the US government cannot make any law ‘respecting an establishment of religion.’ In the words of the Supreme Court, this generally means that the government can’t “pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another,” or otherwise become entangled in religious affairs.

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Would Jesus save the railways?

Friday, December 5th, 2014

A train tagged with the word 'Jesus' in graffitiLast week a survey by UK polling agency won the prize for the most stupid question in an opinion poll:

Do you think Jesus would support or oppose renationalising the railways, so they are run in the public sector rather than by private companies?

It’s unlikely Jesus would have held a view, given that public transport had not been invented. But as one wit pointed out on Twitter: ‘He arrived by Virgin‘! Click to continue »

LGBT Organizations Should Not Criticize President Obama’s Immigration Move

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

President Barack ObamaDear LGBTI Activists, Advocates and Organizations,

Now that the dust is settling I want to again applaud President Barack Obama for his push toward immigration reform with the Executive Order (EO) he spoke of last night.

The President could not feasibly do much more than he did – because of the current political climate, which necessitated the EO in the first place. Hence I do not believe LGBT organizations should criticize President Obama for not doing more at this time, and should instead support this move as a courageous and imperative tool toward full comprehensive immigration reform for all.

The speech and resulting EO is clearly orchestrated to provide as little ammunition to the Republican Party as possible. The President kept it to an enforcement order only, issuing a challenge for the Republicans to get to work on the immigration legislation they are pretending is not there. Remember Comprehensive Immigration reform already passed the Senate and has been at Speaker Boehner’s feet for how long?

President Obama cannot legislate in place of Congress; that is their job. This EO serves as a push-and-shove challenge to the Republicans to now get off their obstructive butts to finally govern on the issue of immigration.

It really is a political tool to challenge the Republicans to do something or choose death in 2016. That is clearly why the President could ONLY give ‘so little,’ as some may see it, at this time – and yet to so many parents and children he has given so much! Almost 5 million will be impacted in a life changing way.

As LGBT activists we should applaud helping the millions consisting of families with children, including many in our community too. Some LGBTI people may be left out – as are many heterosexual people and others in our LGBT community may be excluded simply because our families do not have equal rights – to that I say – where is our Full Equality Bill? Therein lies the real fight for us as a LGBT community. And of course we all support Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) for all; and we all ought to support the President in urging the newly elected majority Republican Congress to legislate appropriately on this issue of a broken immigration system. The EO goes mere inches in this direction as it only is enforcement related and does not provide a path to citizenship.

As LGBTI activists our job is not to criticize the President for his immigration EO when he is so clearly faced with the limitations he has – he can only issue an enforcement related EO – as the safest way to tackle these Republicans and do the much needed push.

This has still taken courageous leadership and for that we should be grateful. As an LGBT community with a very supportive President, why would we want to participate in setting him up for EO’s that could be challenged successfully by his enemies? It is bad enough as it is – they will challenge him on this EO and do anything than can to find a way to impeach. They were talking impeachment in their speculative rhetoric before they even knew what he was going to propose. Instead they got an in the face challenge; a call to do their job. Now let us see if they are able to govern or not or will this be yet another excuse to continue to obstruct? However this time the ball lands squarely in their court and they can chose to hit it back or let it drop to the ground and trail off into a distant corner of the court.

We cannot forget that the President has all the guns of the Republicans pointed at him, fingers on the triggers, ready to shoot him down. And so he cleverly crafted this move in a way that points a canon right back at them. He could not do much more.

He said: We will refrain from deporting families and we will deport felons!” He said: “Stronger borders!” He basically said – ‘Now you, Mr. Speaker, its time to legislate on immigration and you Republican Party it is in your hand to fix this broken immigration system.’ All he could offer is something concrete and meaningful to spark this critical challenge.

We must now align with the President and so as a unified community we should focus on the Republicans and demand that they introduce the comprehensive immigration reform that will include all, as well as LGBTI people, as soon as possible.

The President gave us this EO as a tool, a mere tool, for just that – and any LGBTI activist or organization who cries foul, saying the EO is not enough is shooting this process in the foot, derogating from the Congress’s responsibility, and turning their back on the President in his hour of need.

If the Republicans were smart and wanted to save their 2016 chances of anything, they would have a CIR bill on the President’s desk in the first week they govern with their majority in both houses. Alas I think their anti-immigrant stance will prevail and will deliver something unacceptable or not at all. With that said we have to see this as a strategy so we can use the immigration issue toward taking over the Congress and Presidency in 2016. I am on board – how about you?

Best,

Mel

This post originally appeared on O Blog Dee O Blog Da

Shocking revelation at briefing as the U.S.A. furthers the persecution LGBT Asylum seekers

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Shocking revelation at briefing as we in the U.S.A. further the persecution LGBT Asylum seekers through systematic recriminalization of those seeking to escape unjust criminalization!

By Melanie Nathan, January 08, 2013.

Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 10.49.30 PM

Briefing on Capitol Hill

Seventy Six countries criminalize homosexuality. Most recently we have focused on, amongst others, Russia, India, Uganda, Gambia, Cameroon, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Jamaica, Belize and Nigerian. We are not talking about equality and LGBTI rights here, but rather about a basic right to live according to one’s sexuality, in peace and privacy, with community support for those facing confusion and asking questions when they come out. These 76 countries not only deny this basic human right, but also, through criminalization, participate in the resulting trauma which includes rejection and often physical harm.

In the U.S.A., although we fail our own LGBTI with the lack of full equality, at least we do not criminalize homosexuality and though our President and State Department have condemned those who do criminalize homosexuality, we still fail potential LGBT asylees who seek our shores for refuge.

We fail them at the outset, when they need special visas to escape their unjust criminalization to come to the U.S.A. Those special considerations and much needed remedies for entry simply do not exist and no one is advocating for change, except at PCI Justice.

And we in the United States fail them further, once they reach our shores, because we do not do much more than re-criminalize the asylum seekers, the already unjustly persecuted. Indeed we re-criminalize those who have been persecuted through unjust criminalizing laws back in their home countries.

Today a briefing was held on Capitol Hill, by LGBT-FAN, the Faith Network, co-sponsored by PCI-Justice and other groups.* One of the speakers at the event included Rochelle Fortier Nwadibia, the Legal Director of PCI-Justice, (Private Courts International.) The focus of Nwadibia’s talk was the continued criminalization of LGBT asylees in the United States. And the message screams for human compassion to include the imperative call for a dramatic change in how we treat LGBT asylum seekers.

Nwadibia, a prominent immigration and international human rights attorney, renowned for litigating Mohamed v. Gonzales re: Female Genital Mutilation, reported today at the briefing as follows:

Good afternoon,

Thank you to each and everyone of you for attending this important briefing.

Our focus today on LGBT asylum highlights the increased criminalization of asylum seekers within our immigration system, and explains why we must focus on providing a true safe harbor for LGBT asylum seekers.

As Americans, we are reminded of the historical journey of many that have sought refuge in the United States for generations. We are all aware that it is THIS country that has served as the beacon of hope for many fleeing persecution abroad. Unfortunately, today our arms are not open wide for the modern day asylum seeker. Instead, we find the creeping criminalization of asylum seekers through the BED MANDATE and DETENTION, and NOT the safe harbor that we would expect.

In this process today, we detain them, subject them to criminal prosecution and imprisonment, and we force many of them to begin their “fresh start” in the United States with a criminal conviction.

The detention of asylum seekers results from the Congressional bed mandate is increasingly the door through which many asylum seekers must enter before having access to our asylum process.

In reality, we are the ones contributing to the criminalization of LGBT asylum seekers by offering a jail bed as the first place for them to lay their head.

These asylum seekers arrive at our doorstep traumatized by the fear of persecution perpetuated by family, friends, and members of their own community.

They are completely alone.

They are Fleeing family shame, societal rejection, and socially sanctioned:
* physical assault
* forced marriage
* rape
* fear of arrest and prosecution according to laws criminalizing LGBT identity, and
* death

They are completely alone.

As an attorney, I have watched asylum seekers enter court rooms shackled to convicted criminals, while escorted from place to place by law enforcement. They are housed in isolated facilities with convicted criminals where attorneys that wish to represent them have difficulty obtaining access and law enforcement authorities seldom return calls to attorneys and the criminalization process moves forward.

These practices create structural barriers to legal access and deny immediate protection of these asylum seekers.

I have observed a judge, sitting on the bench, who did not even raise his head and look at the detainees in front of him, neither as a group, or when calling their names individually. Instead he chose to focus on reading from documents throughout the entire hearing, and in the process thereby denying their dignity and never acknowledging their humanity.

What we are witnessing is a situation where the asylum seeker finds that the experience in the United States may not be too different from the criminalization that they are fleeing.

We must do better. We must provide the social supports that facilitate a pathway to freedom.

It is for these reasons, that the efforts championed by LGBT-FAN member organizations aimed at supporting LGBT asylum seekers once they land on our soil is crucial and can not be understated.

It is important the we open not only our doors, but our hearts and minds and create a safety net for asylum seekers that enable them to thrive independently in the United States.

I am suggesting that In order to accomplish this, we:
* must remove the one year rule to allow asylum seekers the time to adjust to freedom, in order to prepare and properly advance their claims,
* must provide for the immediate availability of employment authorization so that they can support themselves while seeking this relief,
* must remove the bed mandate that leads to the detention and halt the criminalization of asylum seekers by removing them from the detention process, and

By doing so, we will restore the dignity to and respect the humanity LGBT asylum seekers as they follow their quest for a life of freedom.

Melanie Nathan, nathan@privatecourts.com
#LGBTasylHELP #LGBTASYLUM @rafinlaw @pcijustice @melanienathan1

CALL TO ACTION
IF you care and this article has impacted you, shocked you, concerned you… please sign the LGBT-FAN petition at

http://www.change.org/petitions/honor-the-human-rights-of-lgbt-asylum-seekers-in-the-u-s

*Co-Sponsors: Center Global, a program of the DC Center for the LGBT Community, Daylight Consulting Group, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) Human Rights Campaign Foundation, Integrity USA, LGBT Asylum Support Task Force, Metropolitan Community Churches, Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, ReconcilingWorks: Lutherans for Full Participation, PCI Justice, St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, United Church of Christ Coalition for LGBT Concerns, Unitarian Universalist Association United Nations Office, and Unitarian Universalist Association

 

USA: Difficult Time for Some LGBT Immigrants Applying for Marriage-Based Visas

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Department of Homeland SecurityAmir Rasoulpour graduated a year ago from the City University of New York law school and didn’t know exactly what he’d do. He got a job for a short time at a small Queens immigration firm but wanted something different, more creative, so he started looking around for opportunities. In late June he found one.

Shortly after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred gay couples from the federal benefits attached to marriage, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano made clear that her immigration agents would start accepting marriage-based visa applications from same-sex couples.

“Immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse [will be reviewed] in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse,” Napolitano announced.

When Rasoulpour’s heard this he had two thoughts. On the one hand he was thrilled. As an Iranian-American whose parents immigrated to the U.S., Rasoulpour knows firsthand that opening legal routes to immigrate will change lives for the better. But he also worried that Napolitano’s assertion that gay and straight couples will be treated exactly the same could end up backfiring for some couples.

Authored By Seth Freed Wessler – See the Full Story at LGBTQ Nation

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USA: Kerry Says Married Binational Same Sex Couples Officially Eligible for Visas

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

US Secretary of State John KerryIt’s official – binational same sex couples now have a way to avoid deportation once and for all. Just get married. The Advocate reports:

Following the lead of the Department of Homeland Security, Secretary of State John Kerry announced Friday that the U.S. State Department will immediately begin offering visas to married same-sex couples in the same fashion it does to married opposite-sex couples. Kerry made the announcement at the U.S. Embassy in London Friday morning, citing the recent landmark rulings from the Supreme Court in support of marriage equality. “One of our most important exports by far is America’s belief in the equality of all people,” said Kerry. “Now, our history shows that we haven’t always gotten it right.”

It’s refreshing to see something so devastating to so many couples finally settled definitively in their favor, isn’t it?

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USA: Binational Couples Flooding Immigration Offices

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Gay WeddingNow that married binational same sex couples can now request a green-card for the foreign-born partner, these couples are flooding into immigration offices around the country. McClatchy reports:

Same-sex couples have been flooding [immigration attorney Cara] Jobson’s office since Wednesday with requests for help applying for a green card for a foreign spouse, she said. Kirkbride and Kurzatkowska filed their papers Friday. The process includes filling out forms, getting a medical exam for the spouse applying for the green card, and showing that the foreign spouse won’t be a financial burden to the U.S., Jobson said. The foreign spouse also has to prove that he or she entered the country legally. Then, in about three months, the couple is called in for an interview, in which they have to show that they have a “bona fide” marriage, in that they share finances, or insurance, or children. If approved, the foreign spouse will soon receive a green card in the mail. After three years, the green card holder can apply for U.S. citizenship, as long as the couple is still married and living together.

I can only imagine the immense relief of these couples at the decision, and the frustration and anger that it took so long to get here.

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USA, Florida: Binational Gay Couple Gets First Green Card

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

Florida Gay Couple Gets Green CardThe long nightmare for same sex binational couples is finally over, and a couple in Florida has a green card to prove it. The Advocate reports:

Two men from Florida are the first binational, married, same-sex couple granted a greencard in the wake of DOMA’s death this week. The Supreme Court on Wednesday narrowly threw out the Defense of Marriage Act, which amongst its many injuries, made it impossible for those who marry a foreign-born same-sex person from sponsoring their spouse for a greencard (the reason: DOMA demanded the federal government not recognize state-sanctioned gay marriages). Two days later, a male couple from Florida, who married in a state or country where same-sex nuptials are recognized, benefited from SCOTUS’s decision, according to immigration attorney Lavi Soloway. The couple has not yet been identified by name.

We’re beyond thrilled for the happy couple.

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USA: Binational Same Sex Couples Can Now Get Green Cards

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

DOMA OverNow that the US Supreme Court has struck down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, American citizens can sponsor their same-sex partners from other countries for a green card and eventually for citizenship. Joe.My.God reports:

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling striking down a core provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), lesbian and gay Americans will now be eligible to apply for green cards on behalf of their foreign national spouses, the organization Immigration Equality announced today. The court ruled today, in United States v. Windsor, that Section 3 of DOMA, which prohibited the federal government from conferring benefits to married same-sex couples, is unconstitutional. That provision of the law made it impossible for lesbian and gay couples to receive immigration benefits, including green cards.

While this is certain to be a relief for many couples, it doesn’t undo the damage the policy has done in the past to so many binational couples.

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New Video Hilights Heartbreaking Story of Binational Gay Couple Separated by DOMA

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Tim & JamieThousands of binational gay and lesbian couples are either living apart or in danger of being separated because of Defense of Marriage Act. Towleroad.com has the heartbreaking story of one such couple:

Meet Tim and Jamie. They’ve been together since August 2006. They got married in June 2012. But in June 2009 they had their first inkling that their international love would be tested: Jamie, a native of Scotland, was detained at SeaTac Airport due to visa problems and was denied the right to call Tim. Now, Jamie and Tim’s marriage in Canada cannot be recognized legally in the United States because of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.

It’s time for DOMA to go. Let’s hope the Supreme Court sees things the same way.

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