Leahy submits immigration amendment to allow gays to sponsor foreign-born partners

Sen. Patrick Lehy

Sen. Patrick Lehy

WASHINGTON – The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday submitted an amendment to a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would allow legally married gay Americans to sponsor their foreign-born partners for green cards.

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) submitted the amendment to the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, one of several the committee chairman filed on Tuesday.

Sen. Patrick Lehy

The Committee will meet on Thursday to begin consideration of the bipartisan immigration reform bill.

Leahy has championed the issue for binational, same-sex couples over the last decade through his push for the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), which was the subject of testimony before the Judiciary Committee in 2009 and just last month.

The amendment mirrors his legislation, which covers all bi-national permanent partnerships.

Additionally, Leahy filed a separate amendment that provides equal protection to lawfully married bi-national same sex couples that other spouses receive under existing immigration law.

“For immigration reform to be truly comprehensive, it must include protections for all families,” Leahy said. “We must end the discrimination that gay and lesbian families face in our immigration law.”

Leahy filed the following additional amendments on Tuesday:

  • To make significant improvements to the job-creating EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center program, which has been a proven economic driver in Vermont and other states throughout the country.
  • To ensure that immigrant victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and other crimes do not wait longer than 180 days to receive their work authorization while their immigration applications are being adjudicated.
  • To use the $1.5 billion in fencing funding as effectively as possible, ensure transparency and consultation with relevant stakeholders, and add a rule of construction that nothing in the bill authorizes fencing at the Northern Border. This amendment is offered with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).
  • To allow long-term temporary agricultural workers to be accompanied by a child or spouse while working in the United States.
  • To allow undocumented individuals who register for Registered Provisional Immigrant Status (RPI) to pay the fines required under the legislation in installments.

On Monday, Leahy filed an amendment to bar the creation of a land border crossing fee. All amendments to the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 must filed by today at 5 p.m.

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