Senators reach agreement on immigration reform
January 28, 2013... WASHINGTON (AP) — A bipartisan group of leading senators has reached agreement on the principles for a sweeping
overhaul of the nation's immigration laws, including a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants already in this country.
The deal, to be announced at a news conference Monday, also covers border security, non-citizen or "guest" workers and employer verification of
Although thorny details remain to be negotiated and success is far from certain — the legislation could run into trouble in the Republican-
controlled House — the development heralds the start of what could be the most significant effort in years toward overhauling the nation's
inefficient patchwork of immigration laws.
President Barack Obama also is committed to enacting comprehensive immigration legislation and will travel to Nevada on Tuesday to lay out his
vision, which is expected to overlap in important ways with the Senate effort.
The eight senators expected to endorse the new principles Monday are Democrats Charles Schumer of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Robert
Menendez of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado; and Republicans John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco
Rubio of Florida and Jeff Flake of Arizona.
Several of these lawmakers have worked for years on the issue. McCain collaborated with the late Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy on
comprehensive immigration legislation pushed by then-President George W. Bush in 2007, only to see it collapse in the Senate when it couldn't
get enough GOP support.
Now, with some Republicans chastened by the November elections which demonstrated the importance of Latino voters and their increasing
commitment to Democrats, some in the GOP say this time will be different.
"What's changed, honestly, is that there is a new, I think, appreciation on both sides of the aisle — including maybe more importantly on the
Republican side of the aisle — that we have to enact a comprehensive immigration reform bill," McCain said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."
"I think the time is right," McCain said.
The group claims a notable newcomer in Rubio, a potential 2016 presidential candidate whose conservative bona fides may help smooth the way
for support among conservatives wary of anything that smacks of amnesty. In an opinion piece published Sunday in the Las Vegas Review-
Journal, Rubio wrote that the existing system amounts to "de facto amnesty," and he called for "commonsense reform."
According to documents obtained by The Associated Press, the senators will call for accomplishing four goals:
—Creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here, contingent upon securing the border and better tracking of people here
—Reforming the legal immigration system, including awarding green cards to immigrants who obtain advanced degrees in science, math,
technology or engineering from an American university.
—Creating an effective employment verification system to ensure that employers do not hire illegal immigrants.
—Allowing more low-skill workers into the country and allowing employers to hire immigrants if they can demonstrate they couldn't recruit a
U.S. citizen; and establishing an agricultural worker program.
The principles being released Monday are outlined on just over four pages, leaving plenty of details left to fill in. What the senators do call for is
similar to Obama's goals and some past efforts by Democrats and Republicans, since there's wide agreement in identifying problems with the
current immigration system. The most difficult disagreement is likely to arise over how to accomplish the path to citizenship.
In order to satisfy the concerns of Rubio and other Republicans, the senators are calling for the completion of steps on border security and
oversight of those here on visas before taking major steps forward on the path to citizenship.
Even then, those here illegally would have to qualify for a "probationary legal status" that would allow them to live and work here — but not qualify
for federal benefits — before being able to apply for permanent residency. Once they are allowed to apply they would do so behind everyone else
already in line for a green card within the current immigration system.
That could be a highly cumbersome process, but how to make it more workable is being left to future negotiations. The senators envision a more
streamlined process toward citizenship for immigrants brought here as children by their parents, and for agricultural workers.
The American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement that the framework agreed on by the senators could provide important protections for
illegal immigrants who are exploited by employers and live in "constant fear" over their immigration status.
But the ACLU took issue with the proposal to require employers to use an electronic employment-verification system, calling it "a thinly disguised
national ID requirement" that would undermine employees' privacy and lead to discrimination against those "who look or sound 'foreign.'"
Such legislation could also face long odds in the House, which is dominated by conservative Republicans and which has shown little interest in
The debate will play out at the start of Obama's second term, as he aims to spend the political capital afforded him by his re-election victory on an
issue that has eluded past presidents and stymied him during his first term despite his promises to the Latino community to act.
"As the president has made clear for some time, immigration reform is an important priority and he is pleased that progress is being made with
bipartisan support," a White House spokesman, Clark Stevens, said in a statement. "At the same time, he will not be satisfied until there is
meaningful reform and he will continue to urge Congress to act until that is achieved."
For Republicans, the November elections were a stark schooling on the importance of Latino voters, who voted for Obama over Republican Mitt
Romney 71 percent to 27 percent, helping ensure Obama's victory. That led some Republican leaders to conclude that supporting immigration
reform with a path to citizenship has become a political imperative.
Obama Will Include Same-Sex Couples In Immigration Plan
The Senate is silent on bi-national couples divided by law
WASHINGTON — Same-sex couples will be a part of the proposal for addressing immigration reform that President Obama is scheduled to
unveil Tuesday in Las Vegas, BuzzFeed has confirmed with multiple sources familiar with the White House plan.
A Democratic source said: "Same-sex couples will be part of his proposal." A second source confirmed that, unlike the Senate framework
released Monday, same-sex bi-national couples — those with one American and one foreign partner — will be included in the White House
The decision by Obama seeks to remedy what advocates for same-sex couples view as one of the most searing inequalities under the existing
federal limit on marriage to one man and one woman: LGBT American citizens simply have no way to confer citizenship on their romantic partners,
something that is automatic — if not always simple — for straight couples.
Under current law, such same-sex couples, even when married under state law, are not eligible for the green cards that opposite-sex couples can
receive. Foreign partners of same-sex couples have in the past found their green card applications denied — often forcing couples to separate or
Although Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano have taken steps to examine the issue and, in some
cases, prevent deportation of the foreign same-sex partners of Americans, the Defense of Marriage Act continues to prevent the granting of green
cards for such individuals.
White House officials did not respond to requests for comment about the issue Monday night.
When the Senate framework was unveiled Monday, same-sex couples were not included. BuzzFeed has learned that three of the Democratic
senators involved in the bipartisan framework reached out to LGBT advocates on Sunday to let them know in advance that same-sex couples'
immigration issues would not be addressed in the Senate framework.
An LGBT advocate on the call said that the call, which was led by Sen. Chuck Schumer and included Sens. Richard Durbin and Bob Menendez,
included the news from Schumer that same-sex couples would not be addressed in the Senate framework to be unveiled Monday in order to
maintain its bipartisan support.
The advocate also said that Schumer told the advocates that although there would be attempts to include same-sex couples at a later point in the
process — up to and including during committee amendments — there were no guarantees that same-sex couples would be included the
An email seeking comment from Schumer's office was not immediately returned on Monday night.
Alex Conant, press secretary for Sen. Marco Rubio, one of the Republicans who announced the Senate framework Monday, told BuzzFeed shortly
after publication of this story Monday night, "White House officials have talked to BuzzFeed more than they've talked to Marco Rubio about what they
plan to say tomorrow."
"The issue of same-sex couples and immigration are details that still need to be worked out in Senate," Rubio press secretary Alex Conant added.
Earlier Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney refused to say whether Obama would sign the senate proposal if it passed as is, nor
would he comment on a key Democratic concession to Republicans to make granting a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants
dependent on first securing the border.
The Democratic source said the White House is displeased by the proposal and his plan would not link the two.
This article has been updated to include the lack of comment from White House officials and the comments from Conant.
Republicans: Campaigning Against Marriage is a Losing Strategy
May 10, 2012...Washington, DC– In the wake of President Obama’s personal announcement in support of the freedom to marry, Republicans
should recognize the changed political climate on the issue in favor of equality.
“Marriage equality has captured the nation’s attention, and the response to President Obama’s announcement is evidence of the tide turning in
favor of equality for all. Log Cabin Republicans have long believed that supporting the freedom to marry is the right thing to do and the President’
s joining this effort is in the nation’s best interest. That said, Americans can be certain that the President would not have made this decision at
this time if it were not in his best political interests. In addition to energizing his base and distracting attention from a failed economic record, the
trap is laid for any Republican who responds with intolerance,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director. “Already
some in the GOP are taking the bait with former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie bringing up the twice-failed Federal Marriage Amendment and the
unfortunate vote on Representative Heulskamp’s (R-KS) amendment re-affirming DOMA last night. Democrats are eager to fundraise off of this
issue. It is in the best interests of Republican candidates to be measured and disciplined in response, recognizing that a generational shift has
“Governor Mitt Romney’s statement in opposition to not just marriage but civil unions jeopardizes his ability to win moderates, women and
younger voters, especially as a large majority of Americans favor some form of relationship recognition for their LGBT friends and neighbors.
Ultimately, the response of the Republican candidates this election cycle will determine not just endorsements by Log Cabin Republicans, but
the votes of millions of Americans who are simply tired of the culture wars.”
August 3, 2001
Re: Comments about the LGBT Community
Mrs. Diana Cardenas,
On behalf of Unity Coalition|Coalición Unida, a Florida non profit dedicated to the Leadership,
Protection & Promotion of Latino|Hispanic LGBTQ rights (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,
questioning) - the only organization of its kind in South Florida since 2002, we join the many
voices outraged by your insensitive and irresponsible statements, and call on you to
immediately retract and apologize for your public comments regarding the GLBT community.
The LGBT community if filled with loving, caring, happy & respectable individuals - families,
couples, mother, fathers, sons & daughters – much like yourself & your family. Unlike you,
Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans are respectful & protective of others rights,
and will fight for equality and fairness for all. We are patriotic, honest, hard working, tax paying
Americans that deserve and demand the same rights this great country offers us, as it did to
& your husband when you came to its shores.
Your comments placed in a public forum like Facebook are hurtful, disrespectful, misleading
and simply unacceptable. We ask you to retract your comments and apologize. Hate and
bigotry of this sort is why our LGBT youth suicide rate is 4 times that of heterosexuals, and
hate crimes & bullying plague our society. Your words only propagate these horrible
We may agree to disagree on many issues & policies, but to attack an entire group of
Americans based on ill-informed stereotypes and your own misguided references is counter-
productive. You should know the pain and suffering this type of action has caused Americans
historically, Catholics, Cubans, Jews…the List goes on. One would hope your personal
experiences and that of your loved ones and fellow Americans would have hade you a more
tolerant and accepting individual, but not to worry, Unity Coalition|Coalición Unida is always
willing and available to work with you in better understanding the LGBT community, our
similarities, hopes, dreams and expectations. Our doors are open to you, in the spirit of unity,
understanding & love.
UC|CU offers many community workshops, including our STATE OF HATE Workshop coming
up on September 10th – We believe you would greatly benefit by attending, opening up your
mind & heart and be better informed on a topic you seem very confused and greatly
Whether you accept our invitation or not, we hope you do understand the real harm you have
caused and prejudice you have displayed and call on you to do the right thing and apologize
Director, Unity Coalition|Coalición Unida - www.unitycoalition.org
MIAMI HERALD –
Al Cardenas' wife, Diana: Gays 'are in our faces with public display of
affection, gay parades, gay rallies, non-stop bombardment!!!'
The American Conservative Union -- now led by Miami attorney Al Cardenas -- has barred the
conservative gay Republican group, GOProud, from sponsoring and fully participating at its
next national convention.
This week, Cardenas' wife Diana (Chief Operating Officer (COO) at The Cardenas
Household," according to her Facebook profile) engaged in an interesting public exchange
on the social network about gays and lesbians after GOP activist Ana Navarro posted
comments concerning Texas Gov. Rick Perry's flip-flop last week on gay marriage:
"I want a candidate w/strong informed opinions & beliefs & courage to stick by them even
when not politically convenient. Is that too much to ask these days?" Navarro posted.
Here's Diana Cardenas' initial response to Navarro:
I would be very disappointed if Perry did not favor amending the Const to ban gay marriage.
These gay marriage laws are destructive .... Marriage is a vital social institution between two
members of the OPPOSITE sex. It goes way beyond just an emotional relationship---it serves
a vital role in the stability and continuity of our society, something which homosexual
marriages cannot provide. Unfortunately, the biggest victory of the gay movement has been to
shift the debate from a 'behavior' to identity, whereby those that oppose homosexuality are
considered bigoted or hateful. They have equated it to the Civil Rights Movement, seeking to
obtain the rights granted under the constitution to all races or religions. Sexual behavior does
not fall into either category!!!!It is not about homosexuals wanting to enter into a 'marriage' so
much as it is about them wanting to gain acceptance into mainstream society by redefining
the traditional definition of the institution. Because a few liberal judges decide to sign it into
law, does not mean the public is in favor of it. Whenever it has been put on the ballot (as in
California), it has failed.
A few hours later, Cardenas responded to Rena Doty Fraser, who asked why gay marriage
"is such a threat":
Rena, it IS a threat to society. It is not nature's way. They can't procreate, can they?....You hvae
them in your family? Well, there is no reason not to like them or love them, the same way you
would love one who has a disability, or an illness, etc. I just DO NOT want them pushing their
agenda on the majority who are not. This is just about sexual preference--keep it in the
bedroom!!!! It is not about being denied any constitutional rights.....Ana, I got your point.....I am
just tired of this topic being shoved in our face continually by all these gay activists and I have
to ventilate my feelings.... You know I always wondered why homosexuals are referred to as
'gay', kind of an oxymoron? Nothing really 'gay' about them or their movement......I am all for
intellectual honesty too!!
UNITY COALITION|COALICION UNIDA DISAPPOINTED IN GOVERNOR SCOTTS POSITION ON ADOPTIONS IN FLORIDA -
NEGATIVELY AFFECTING THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN
Miami, Florida…January 20, 2011- Just days into his inauguration as Florida’s new governor, Rick Scott has already taken positions and
decisions that are not in the best interest of thousands of children currently in Florida’s state foster care, and clearly are in opposition of the recent
court ruling filed and won by the ACLU of Florida, allowing gay and lesbian adoption in Florida.
Since 2002, Unity Coalition|Coalicion Unida -dedicated to the Leadership, Protection & Promotion of Latino|Hispanic LGBT rights (lesbian, gay,
bisexual, transgender), the only organization of its kind in South Florida - has been meeting with elected leaders & bringing volunteer contingents
to Tallahassee to speak on behalf of the over 5,000 children currently in the states system, and until recently, had no chance of being adopted by a
loving, caring and capable household, if they happen to be gay or lesbian. Florida was the only State in the Union that had this archaic and
discriminatory law until recently.
Just this week, the governor said "Adoption should be by a married couple", as reported by the Associated Press. His statement and position is
clearly ignoring the court ruling on gay and lesbian inclusive adoption and it could remove millions of Floridians from the adoption process and
leave tens of thousands of children in state foster care who could otherwise be adopted by loving families.
On Wednesday, Governor Rick Scott named David Wilkins as Secretary of the Department of Children and Families – the state agency
responsible for implementing adoptions in Florida. David Wilkins serves as Finance Chairman for Florida Baptist Children’s Homes – an
“organization dedicated to providing Christ-centered services to children and families…” Among its missions, the Florida Baptists Children’s
Homes provides adoption services. To adopt through them, they, “require that you be a professing Christian, be active in a local Christian church,
and follow a lifestyle that is consistent with the Christian faith.”
Such a narrow view of adoption is well outside the mainstream in Florida, leaves millions of Americans out of the process and disregards what is
in the best interests of the child. It is, in a word, dangerous to have a man with these narrow values setting adoption policy for all of us.
These positions being taken by elected officials & appointed representatives of the People clearly go against the will of Floridians, the court
rulings we abide by, and jeopardize the civil rights and ability of millions of Floridians from the adoption process and leave tens of thousands of
children in state foster care who could otherwise be adopted by loving families.
With this appointment and Governor Scott’s statements, we are profoundly disappointed but not surprised. In real terms it means the showdown
on adoption may be just starting instead of nearing an end. Unity Coalition|Coalicion Unida remains unified and in solidarity with the hundreds of
like-minded leaders & organizations across the state, and vows to keep Governor Scott focused on respecting, adhering to and upholding the
laws & will of our state.
Unity Coalition|Coalicion Unida urges Governor Scott to respect the court rulings in Florida, keep personal beliefs & religion out of government, not
violate the civil rights of all our citizens and allow Florida’s children in foster care, a real chance at a stable, loving & enriching home.
January 4, 2010... US lifts HIV/Aids
The US has lifted a 22-year
immigration ban which has stopped
anyone with HIV/Aids from entering the
UNITY COALITION|COALICION UNIDA was
Proud to have been a part of the Miami-
Dade HATE CRIMES SUMMIT...
Representing, Fighting for & Protecting LGBT Issues &
Rights in our community -
The Miami-Dade Community Relations Board SUMMIT
ON HATE CRIMES AND HATE SPEECH: Creating a
Roadmap to Prevention and Response, at the Board of
County Commission Chambers Stephen P. Clark
Government Center, 111 NW 1st Street, Miami.
January 26, 2011 -
FEATURED DISCUSSION: WHERE WE ARE AND WHERE WE
NEED TO GO - Moderator: Ms. Joy-Ann Reid, Editorial
Contributor, The Miami Herald
PANELISTS, HATE CRIMES:
Mr. David Barkey, Southern Area Council, Anti-Defamation
League, Ms. Breezye Telfair, Assistant State Attorney, Miami-Dade
Hate Crimes Unit
PANELISTS, HATE SPEECH:
Dr. D. Marvin Jones, Professor of Law, University of Miami
Ms. Suzy Berrios, Director, Mental Health and Crisis Management
Services, Miami-Dade County Public Schools
PANELISTS, MEDIA RESPONSIBILITY:
Ms. Tsitsi Wakhisi, Associate Professor of Journalism,
University of Miami School of Communication
Mr. David Lawrence Jr., President, The Children’s Movement of
Florida and former Publisher, The Miami Herald
Unity Coalition|Coalicion Unida members present: Eddie Sierra, Maritza Bedoya,
Herb Sosa, Ile Morales & Cathy Toruno.
Rep. Gutierrez Draws Nation's Attention to Civil Rights Violations in Puerto Rico
February 17, 2011... (Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) draws attention today on the floor of the
U.S. House of Representatives to the civil rights violations in Puerto Rico, against students of the
University of Puerto Rico and against the Puerto Rico Bar Association -Colegio de Abogados de
Puerto Rico- including its President Osvaldo Toledo who was recently arrested and jailed for
informing lawyers of their right to opt out of a class action suit against the Bar Association
(trying to dismantle the Bar Association) in which all lawyers were automatically included as
plaintiffs. Congressman Gutierrez was a key ally in the struggle to get the U.S. Navy out of Vieques
and was arrested for civil disobedience. The Puerto Rico Bar Association was also a key organization
in that struggle and in defending those arrested for acts of civil disobedience and acting as human
shields in defense of Vieques)
(Link to Text and Video):
ELVIS CRESPO, Int’l. Latin Singing Sensation, Speaks Out on LGBT HATE CRIMES, Exclusively for Unity
Miami, Florida – July 19, 2011… Unity Coalition|Coalición Unida is thrilled to be developing a new program - NO ESTA SOLO|YOU ARE NOT
ALONE - A series of videos featuring community & entertainment leaders, to deal with issues of LGBT Hate Crimes & Teen Suicide. The first in this
series is International Latin Singing Sensation, ELVIS CRESPO.
The focus is a bilingual audience, with emphasis on stopping hate crimes, discrimination and bullying within our own communities. When we
reached out to music producer Joe Granda of Granda Entertainment, he immediately offered to help out and to work with his team of talent to make
this important project a reality. “There is too much hate, misinformation & crimes directed towards the LGBT community. Whatever we can do to
help stop this, educate & inform the community, we are in!” said Granda.
In unison with this video project, Unity Coalition|Coalición Unida (UC|CU) is committed to ongoing training & workshops throughout the community,
including the STATE OF HATE Workshops offered in Spanish & English, where Crime & Discrimination, Sexual Orientation, Labels & Perception
and how to improve community relations & reduce attacks to our community are discussed openly &
honestly. The June 2011 workshop featured a special appearance & testimonial from TV & Broadway star Jai Rodriguez. The next State of Hate
workshop will be held in Miami Beach on September 10, 2011.
Why is this type of work necessary?
- THERE IS ONE LGBT MURDER EVERY 9 DAYS IN AMERICA.
- THERE WAS 1 LGBT MURDER EVERY 9 DAYS IN THE US IN 2008.
- THE FBI REPORTED 1,482 HATE CRIMES BASED ON SEXUAL
ORIENTATION IN 2009.
- FLORIDA: HATE CRIMES REPORTED AGAINST LGBT’S INCREASED
IN 2007 TO 1,265 –HIGHEST IN 5 YEARS.
- SOUTH FLORIDA LEADS THE STATE ON REPORTED HATE CRIMES
“We look forward to eradicating Hate Crimes towards the LGBT
community, and hope that through our programming & education, we
can chip away at this horrible attack on our community” said UC|CU
board member Moses Stein.
Additional videos & testimonials are being developed for the UC|CU
series, and will appear regularly on various Social Media outlets,
Ambiente Magazine & Unity Coalition|Coalición Unida’s website.
Please visit www.unitycoalition.org or www.youtube.com to see ELVIS
CRESPO for Unity Coalition|Coalicion Unida, as well as support &
community outreach resources for the LGBT Youth & community.
Immigration Judge Closes
Deportation Case Against Married Gay
August 20, 2011... Attorney Lavi Soloway writes,
"San Francisco Immigration Judge Marilyn Teeter
has granted [Immigrations and Customs
Enforcement] Motion to Administratively Close
Deportation of gay Venezuelan Alex Benshimol,
ending the nightmare faced by Alex and his
American husband, Doug Gentry."
In July, Teeter had put off a decision on the case
until 2013, but had given the U.S. government 60
days to decide whether it was going to continue
with Benshimol's deportation.
Soloway writes, "According to the documents
received today, ICE moved quickly to notify the
court by the beginning of August requesting that
the case be dropped. A few days later, the Judge
granted the government's motion and closed
This is at least the second time ICE has taken
such an action in a case. Earlier this year, in a
case involving another Venezuelan, Henry
Velandia, and his husband, Josh Vandiver, the
ICE office in Newark, N.J., took a similar action,
noting that Velandia's case "is not an
enforcement priority at this time."
The move appears to be in line with the plan laid
out earlier this week by Department of Homeland
Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for focusing
on the "highest priority" deportation cases.
Obama Administration To Stop Deporting Younger Undocumented Immigrants
And Grant Work Permits
By ALICIA A. CALDWELL AND JIM KUHNHENN, AP
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger undocumented immigrants who
came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives. The election-year initiative addresses a top priority of an influential Latino
electorate that has been vocal in its opposition to administration deportation policies.
The policy change, described to The Associated Press by two senior administration officials, will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have
lived in fear of deportation. It also bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the so-called DREAM Act, a long-sought but never
enacted plan to establish a path toward citizenship for young people who came to the United States without documents but who have attended
college or served in the military.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was to announce the new policy Friday, one week before President Barack Obama plans to
address the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials' annual conference in Orlando, Fla. Republican presidential challenger
Mitt Romney is scheduled to speak to the group on Thursday.
Under the administration plan, undocumented immigrants will be immune from deportation if they were brought to the United States before they
turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high
school or earned a GED, or served in the military. They also can apply for a work permit that will be good for two years with no limits on how many
times it can be renewed. The officials who described the plan spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss it in advance of the official
The policy will not lead toward citizenship but will remove the threat of deportation and grant the ability to work legally, leaving eligible immigrants
able to remain in the United States for extended periods.
"Many of these young people have already contributed to our country in significant ways," Napolitano wrote in a memorandum describing the
administration's action. "Prosecutorial discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here."
The extraordinary move comes in an election year in which the Hispanic vote could be critical in swing states like Colorado, Nevada and Florida.
While Obama enjoys support from a majority of Hispanic voters, Latino enthusiasm for the president has been tempered by the slow economic
recovery, his inability to win congressional support for a broad overhaul of immigration laws and by his administration's aggressive deportation
policy. Activists opposing his deportation policies last week mounted a hunger strike at an Obama campaign office in Denver, and other protests
were planned for this weekend.
The change is likely to cause an outcry from congressional Republicans, who are sure to perceive Obama's actions as an end run around them.
Republicans already have complained that previous administration uses of prosecutorial discretion in deportations amount to back-door
amnesty. Romney and many Republican lawmakers want tighter border security measures before considering changes in immigration law.
Romney opposes offering legal status to undocumented immigrants who attend college but has said he would do so for those who serve in the
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll last month found Obama leading Romney among Hispanic voters 61 percent to 27 percent. But his
administration's deportation policies have come under fire, and Latino leaders have raised the subject in private meetings with the president. In
2011, Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported a record 396,906 people and is expected to deport about 400,000 this year.
A December poll by the Pew Hispanic Center showed that 59 percent of Latinos disapproved of the president's handling of deportations.
The changes come a year after the administration announced plans to focus on deporting serious criminals, immigrants who pose threats to
public safety and national security, and serious immigration law violators.
One of the officials said the latest policy change is just another step in the administration's evolving approach to immigration.
Under the plan, immigrants whose deportation cases are pending in immigration court will have to prove their eligibility for a reprieve to ICE, which
will begin dealing with such cases in 60 days. Any immigrant who already has a deportation order and those who never have been encountered
by immigration authorities will deal with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The exact details of how the program will work, including how much immigrants will have to pay to apply and what proof they will need, still are
being worked out.
In making it harder to deport, the Obama administration is in essence employing the same eligibility requirements spelled out in the proposed
The administration officials stopped short of calling the change an administrative DREAM Act – the name is an acronym for Development, Relief
and Education for Alien Minors – but the qualifications meet those laid out in a 2010 version that failed in the Senate after passing in the House.
They said the DREAM Act, in some form, and comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system remained an administration priority.
Undocumented immigrant children won't be eligible to apply for the deportation waiver until they turn 16, but the officials said younger children
won't be deported either.
Last year, Napolitano announced plans to review about 300,000 pending deportation cases and indefinitely suspend those that didn't meet
department priorities. So far, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has reviewed more than 232,000 cases and decided to stop working on
about 20,000. About 4,000 of those 20,000 have opted to keep fighting in court to stay in the United States legally. For the people who opted to
close their cases, work permits are not guaranteed.
"Families First" Bill Moves Domestic Partnership Forward
Posted on April 1, 2013
(TALLAHASSEE) Moments ago the Florida Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs passed the “Families First” bill (SB 196).
By a margin of 5 to 4, the Senate committee voted to move closer to creating a statewide domestic partnership registry (DPR) that would provide
essential legal protections for unmarried couples including hospital visitation, correctional facility visitation, end of life decision making and burial
A majority of Floridians already live in a local community that has a domestic partnership registry. Places like Pinellas County, Volusia County,
Orange County, Broward County, Miami-Dade County, Key West, Tampa, Orlando, Gainesville, Tavares, Clearwater and North Miami already have
registries. The Families First bill would eliminate the patchwork of policies and allow people to have important legal protections for their family, no
matter where they live.
"The bill passed with support from both Democrats and Republicans and its success combined with the strong bipartisan sponsorship of the
Florida Competitive Workforce Act signals a new day in Florida," said Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida. "This is a reflection of the
change in public opinion favoring legal equality for all Florida couples. Our political leaders are finally listening to the pain inflicted on couples who
are treated as legal strangers. And they are listening to the growing voice of business leaders who are calling for statewide protections that will
help them attract and retain a diverse workforce."
Local Domestic Partnership Registries now protect roughly 50% of Florida's population. The protections are vital especially since the state has a
constitutional amendment banning marriage equality.
Senator Sobel has championed this bill and told her fellow committee members "Today we made history." The bill now moves on to the next
Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
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Congress Has Historic Opportunity to Take Action on Employment Discrimination
April 25, 2013 by Paul Guequierre - HRC
Moments ago the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) was introduced in the U.S. House and Senate. The bill would address
discrimination in the workplace by making it illegal to fire, refuse to hire or refuse to promote an employee based on the person’s sexual
orientation or gender identity. Currently there is no federal law against sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination and it is perfectly legal to
fire lesbian, gay and bisexual people under the laws of 29 states and transgender people are not protected by the laws of 34 states.
“Discrimination is just plain wrong. It is shocking that there is still anywhere in America where it is legal to fire someone for their sexual
orientation or gender identity,” Sen. Merkley, the lead sponsor of the bill said. “Americans understand that it’s time to make sure our LGBT friends
and family are treated fairly and have the same opportunities as all Americans. Now it’s time for our laws to catch up. People should be judged at
work on their ability to do the job, period.”
HRC has been advocating for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act since it was first introduced in 1994 and its passage is a top organizational
priority. The last time a Senate committee considered ENDA was 2002 when Sen. Kennedy was the HELP Committee Chairman, and this is the
first time a gender identity inclusive bill is set to see action. Current committee Chairman Tom Harkin has pledged a committee mark-up and
Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he wants to bring the bill to the floor and HRC urges them to take these critical steps.
Americans support ENDA. A November 2011 poll by HRC showed that 77 percent of voters support protecting LGBT people from discrimination in
employment. This includes 70 percent of Republicans and 69 percent of seniors. Voters are also unaware that current federal law does not
prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation with 87 percent believing that kind of discrimination to be illegal and only 5 percent
correctly knowing that it remains legal.
Among Fortune 500 companies, 88 percent have sexual orientation non-discrimination policies and 57 percent have gender identity non-
discrimination policies. Additionally, more than 90 companies have joined the Business Coalition for Workplace Fairness, a group of leading U.S.
employers that support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
Mormon Church Supports Openly Gay Scouts Joining BSA
April 26, 2013 - HRC
Yesterday the Mormon Church offered their stamp of approval to the Boy Scouts of America’s proposed resolution to lift the ban on openly gay
While HRC last week called out the resolution for its continued discrimination against openly gay Scout leaders, the support from the Church of
Latter Day Saints marks a big moment for a religion that previous stood adamantly against LGBT equality.
“This is a clear move in the right direction and we applaud the change the LDS church for taking this important step," said HRC Religion and Faith
Director Sharon Groves. "There are many LGBT youth within the Mormon faith who today feel a little more supported by the Church."
"As the largest sponsor of Scout troops in the nation, the LDS church has the power to transform the lives of young men everywhere," said Groves.
"We ask that they follow the example of their forebearers and exercise true leadership."
HRC is calling on Boy Scouts to open the proud tradition of scouting to not just gay scouts, but leaders and staff as well.
Representatives from the more than 300 local Boy Scout councils will soon vote on the ban on gay scouts and leaders. Send a letter to your local
What is the current federal policy on gay and bisexual men donating blood?
Current federal regulations require any man who has had sex since 1977 with another man, even
once, to be deferred from donating blood. Blood centers nationwide screen potential donors by
asking a set of questions written to determine risk factors that could indicate possible infection
with a transmissible disease, such as HIV or hepatitis. According to the Food and Drug
Administration, this pre-screening eliminates up to 90 percent of donors who may be carrying a
Who writes the policy?
The FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research regulates and establishes standards
for the collection of blood and blood products. The center receives advise on this issue by the
Blood Products Advisory Council, which meets regularly to consider issues such as altering the
pool of potential blood donors.
If officials can test for HIV in blood, why don’t they allow anyone to donate
and then destroy tainted units?
Every donated unit of blood undergoes a rigorous series of tests to determine any possible
presence of HIV, hepatitis, syphilis and other blood-borne disease. None of these tests, however,
are 100 percent accurate, and they can produce faulty results. For instance, despite current
restrictions and testing of approximately 12 million units donated each year, 10 HIV-infected units
have slipped through. To ensure the safety of blood and other tissues for donation, the FDA uses
scientific data to automatically defer certain populations. Because gay and bisexual men have
higher incidence of disease, they are eliminated from the donor pool immediately.
What should the federal policy be?
The current policy does not treat persons with like risks in a similar way. It also believes that
donors are deferred based on their membership in a group — in this case, all men who have sex
with men — rather than engagement in risky behavior, such as unprotected sex. For example, a
man who has had protected oral sex with another man once in 1977 and has not engaged in sex
since that time is currently barred from donating blood. Yet a woman who has had unprotected
sex with multiple partners over the past year with no knowledge of their personal histories
remains in the donor pool.
Unity Coalition|Coalicion Unida, along with dozens of local & national organizations, believes that
the integrity and safety of the blood supply in this country should be preserved, strengthened and
maintained. Any change or alteration in the regulations governing donor suitability must be based
in sound science. The federal government must invest in new research to study risk behavior. It
also must consider revising the donor questionnaires so that they focus on more refined and
specific behavioral criteria, like recent sexual histories that include unprotected sex or significant
numbers of sexual partners over the previous year.
Equality Forums decision to Award Mariela Castro - An opinion from your LGBTQ Colleagues at Unity Coalition|Coalicion Unida
May 5, 2013
Esteemed Directors & board of Equality Forum- Philadelphia,
I am writing you as the director of the Unity Coalition|Coalicion Unida, the first & only non-profit whose focus is the Leadership, Protection & Promotion of
Latino|Hispanic LGBTQ rights (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning) - Advancing Equality since 2002… as well as a first-generation American of
Your recent decision to award Mariela Castro for her efforts and advancement on behalf of Cuba’s LGBT community - although totally with your rights as a group to
do so - was, respectfully, short sighted, insensitive and simply with lack of merit or accuracy.
To reward any element of the decades-old dictatorship, especially for positive efforts on human rights - was an unfortunate and ill-informed decision. The daughter
and niece of the Castro dictators all have blood on their hands. Her marches and public spectacles are nothing more than photo opps for a willing and enabling
media that does not seem to want to ask too many questions...Like why are dozens of LGBT leaders within Cuba routinely arrested, beaten and not heard of for
weeks - and often killed - EVERY TIME she presents herself and her hand-picked "supporters"? If in fact Cuba's LGBT community is improving under her direction,
then why are these and thousands of other voices silenced every day in Cuba?
If you think my statements are inaccurate or exaggerated, I simply ask you how many LGBT dissidents within the island do you communicate with regularly? How
many do you have contact with and monitor the realities they live with there? How many of your friends or relatives have jumped into an unforgiving ocean because
they can no longer live under the Castro's oppression?
We have and maintain these relationships, and do so regularly - with dozens of true Cuban LGBT heroes- risking their lives each day for simply standing up to the
Castro dictatorship. Mariela is just as responsible for their realities and deserves to be tried for crimes against the Cuban people - NOT rewarded for a P.R.
creation of her doing and paraded around. There is a reason Miami's Cuban community is as impassioned and enraged at Cuba's daily abuses against ALL its
people…We stay connected, informed and involved with people within this island.
It is unfortunate that Equality Forum chose to not inform themselves or reach out to other LGBT organizations that DO KNOW what's going on in the island, before
taking this ignorant and disappointing position. Equality Forum has all the RIGHT to award whomever the wish - that's why we live here in the U.S.... But make no
mistake, it is a sad reflection on your lack of understanding and sensitivity towards LGBT Cubans and THEIR REALITY.
I and my organization stand ready, willing and able to work with you in the future to inform and avoid something as unfortunate and hurtful as this from occurring
WASHINGTON BLADE ARTICLE:
FIGHT FOR EQUALITY
Tell Senator Rubio: We're not killing the
Rubio continues his back-tracking from CIR and uses the
vulnerable members of our community as his scapegoat.
He's made the choice to play party politics over committing to
our families...he needs to be held accountable!
Senator Marco Rubio says our families will "kill" immigration
reform. What will really kill the bill, though, is Senator Rubio's
growing list of excuses for withdrawing his support. Pick up
the phone and let him know we're not caving to his threats
and our families will not be scapegoated. Then, share this
graphic and ask your friends to do the same.