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Will immigration reform leave out same-sex couples?

Although Reading residents may know about the widespread immigration reform that is being discussed in Congress, they may not realize why same-sex couples are desperately pushing for a voice at the table. It is true that many states are recognizing same-sex relationships, either through marriage, civil unions or some kind of domestic partnership, but that doesn't mean that the federal government does. And, until it does, same-sex couples cannot use the same family based immigration system that anyone else in Reading would use to bring a foreign spouse or fiancé(e) over to Pennsylvania.

What this means is that the non-American citizen in a same-sex relationship must look for another way into the country. If he or she does not have family members in the United States, however, he or she will need to look for an employer who would be willing to sponsor him or her. Yet, for an individual to come to the United States under the employment-based immigration system often requires the employer to first offer the job to qualified Americans before offering it to anyone else.

Even if the non-American partner was able to get the permission to enter the United States, he or she may have to wait years before being admitted to the country. As he or she waits, Americans sponsoring their foreign spouses are easily (and quickly) able to bring their loved ones over. All of these hurdles could make it easier for the American to just join his or her partner overseas.

Although the Senate Judiciary Committee recently rejected an amendment to extend immigration benefits to same-sex couples, the bill could pick back up the amendments on the Senate floor.

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune, "Immigration debate poses challenge for gay Latinos," Derek P. Jensen, May 28, 2013

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