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The 'Reuniting Families Act' would also try to increase the current per country limit of 7% to 10% for the issuing of green cards. This bill, if passed, would also permit widows, widowers and children of those persons who die before the completion of the immigration process to get LPR status. (Shank, Michael Honda to Announce Key Component of Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Reuniting Families); (Reuniting Families Act-2009); (Honda, The Reuniting Families Act (H.R. 2709))
Reuniting Families Act also attempts to stop discriminatory clauses in other immigration rules which prevent permanent same-sex partners to reunite with their families. From the perspective of illegal immigrants, section 245(i) would be more suitable as they will not have to return to their home country before filing a petition for a change of status because if they do return, they might face a possible ban ranging from 3 to 10 years barring them from entering the country. Again, Section 245(i) would clear a larger section of the immigration backlog than the Reuniting Families Act. However, if we consider from the perspective of legal immigrants who have not flouted any rules and have a family waiting to join them, the Reuniting Families Act seems to be a better proposition. (Shank, Michael Honda to Announce Key Component of Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Reuniting Families); (Reuniting Families Act-2009); (Honda, The Reuniting Families Act (H.R. 2709))
Q5. Who supports the Reuniting Families Act and why?
A number of organizations and Congressional leaders support the Reuniting Families Act. Some of these organizations include Human Rights Campaign, Council for Global Equality, Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, New York Legal Assistance Group, American Immigration Lawyers Association -- AILA, Episcopal Church, American Jewish Committee and various labor organizations. Among the Congressional supporters, Michael Honda is supported by Gary Ackerman, Neil Abercrombie, Barbara Lee, Jesse Jackson Jr., Chaka Fattah, and many more. These organizations and people believe that a just and efficient means to achieve a lawful family-based immigration is essential to keep the nation strong. They believe that strengthening family units makes good business sense as strong family units pool in their resources to launch businesses which facilitate creation of more jobs in the U.S. These families buy homes, send their children to colleges and add to the pool of talented and skilled human resource and in the process strengthen American industry and economy.
Proponents of this bill believe that breadwinners can effectively contribute to U.S. economy if they get the support of the family in looking after the elderly, young children and the sick especially in light other unaffordable alternatives. In addition, in light of the fact that America's social security system is in a jeopardized state, families provide the much-needed security for a workforce that is aging. The support for this bill also comes from the hundreds of immigrants who have entered the U.S. legally and have abided by all the necessary rules but are now separated from their immediate family on account of the present status of the immigration system. This bill would prevent many frustrated family members of LPRs from availing illegal means to enter the country and stay with their families. (Stannard; Hendricks, 6); (Section 245(i): A Matter of Family Unity and Common Sense)
(6) Who opposes the Reuniting Families Act and why?
The main opposition to the Reuniting Families Act has come from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration. Its chairman, Bishop John C. Wester (Salt Lake City) expressed his reservations against certain clauses in the bill in a letter to Michael Honda. The president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, has also clearly expressed his views against this bill. According to these religious heads, the basic clause for their opposition is the one which allows legal residency to same-sex couples and provides them immigration benefits. According to the Bishop, such laws for same sex couples would "erode the institution of marriage and family." (Stannard; Hendricks, 6) (Lima, 5)
Rep. Barney Frank (Massachusetts) has not really declared any opposition to the bill but admits that this bill is all the more controversial due to the inclusion of two highly debatable issues in the same bill -- immigration which in itself has been intensely debated upon, and the issue of same-sex. Even those people asking for immigration reforms are divided on the issue of combining the clauses of UAFA or Uniting American Families Act, presented earlier by Jerry Nadler, representative from New York with the new immigration rules. (Santoscoy, Amsterdam Gay Weddings Protest U.S. Immigration Law) Also opposed to this bill are the "Blue Dog Democrats" -- a group comprising of conservative Democrats who are also opposed to the concept of granting legal status to same-sex immigrant couples. (Stannard; Hendricks, 6) (Lima, 5)
According to the director of policy studies in the Center for Immigration Studies, Jessica Vaughan, the skepticism about including the same-sex clause in this bill might result in an increase in fraud since most of such couples do not have a proof like marriage certificates to substantiate their claim of marriage or being permanent partners like other heterosexual couples do. Since the immigration process is totally dependent on furnishing documentations, otherwise heterosexual people may use this chance to pose as same-sex couples. (Stannard; Hendricks, 6) (Lima, 5)
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