Congressional Support Dramatically Increases for Uniting American Families Act
 
  In September alone, four new Senators and sixteen Representatives cosponsor UAFA
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Zaheer Mustafa, Immigration Equality Communications Coordinator
office:212.714.2904 /cell:516.448.9559 email:Zmustafa@immigrationequality.org
______________________________________________________________
Washington, DC, September 18, 2008- The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), a bill that grants equal immigration rights to Americans in same-sex binational relationships, garnered an unprecedented level of support in Congress this month when four more Senators and sixteen more Representatives joined in cosponsoring the legislation. 
 
Senators Chuck Schumer of New York, Chris Dodd of Connecticut, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, and Maria Cantwell of Washington raised their level of support for UAFA and brought the total number of cosponsors to a record breaking eighteen Senators.  The bill currently has 116 cosponsors in the House of Representatives.
 
Senator Schumer sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the bill.  He brings the number of Committee cosponsors to six.  Senator Leahy (D-VT), the lead sponsor of the bill, is the Chairman of the committee.
 
"We are thrilled with the number of new cosponsors," said Julie Kruse, Immigration Equality's Policy Director.  "Members of Congress agree that Americans should not have to choose between family and country."
 
The new cosponsors include Senators and Representatives from areas as diverse as Kansas, the Carolinas, and Washington state.
 
"The support of these Senators and the increase of support in the House show that this vital legislation is gaining momentum," Kruse said. "When members of Congress meet same-sex partners and their family members face-to-face the injustice of immigration discrimination becomes clear.  This is why we continue winning their support and votes."
 
Under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident may sponsor their spouse for immigration to the U.S.  However, same-sex partnerships are not recognized for federal immigration purposes.  Consequently, U.S. citizens in same-sex relationships cannot sponsor their partners for immigration.

Under the current system, thousands of lesbian and gay binational couples are forced into exile abroad, long-distance relationships or separation as a result.  Immigration Equality believes that this serves no public policy function and contradicts the central goal of U.S. immigration policy - family unification.  UAFA would remedy this injustice.

UAFA would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act by adding the term "permanent partner" next to "spouse" for immigration to the U.S.  Gay and lesbian couples would be subject to the same standards of proof that they are in a committed, life-long relationships and are financially interdependent as opposite-sex couples.

Immigration Equality, a national not-for-profit advancing equal immigration rights for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and HIV-positive community, is the principal advocate for the legislation. Immigration Equality worked with members of Congress to introduce the legislation, educates members of Congress about the need for passage, and documents the stories of Americans and their families affected by the issue. 

                                                           ###

Immigration Equality is a national organization that works to end discrimination in U.S. immigration law, to reduce the negative impact of that law on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV-positive people, and to help obtain asylum for those persecuted in their home country based on their sexual orientation, transgender identity or HIV-status.