After this health care reform nightmare, the president is next expected to overhaul the nation’s immigration system. And it’s there that Obama and lawmakers will work to grant undocumented immigrants some of the very rights and privileges that gay American citizens do not enjoy.
It’s impossible to know the details of what will come out of 2010’s immigration reform stab. But you can certainly expect things like healthcare and taxation to be included in whatever “status” lawmakers come up with for those living in the U.S. illegally. Homeland Security Sec. Janet Napolitano, who is Obama’s go-to on immigration reform, isn’t saying much about the White House’s plans — only that they want to make it easier for law enforcement to crack down on employers fishing for illegal workers, and provide some sort of amnesty (or chance to “get right with the law”) to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before a certain date.
There are a lot of ifs and buts in there — and both Democrats and Republicans will have their own agendas in the debate. But what’s unarguable here is that the White House and our sometimes BFFs, the Democrats, are putting the priorities of foreigners living in the U.S. illegally ahead of an entire class of Americans.
When it comes to moving on ENDA, DADT, and DOMA, the White House and legislators always have a “too busy” excuse, which is always explained with “healthcare reform” and, soon, “immigration reform.” This is not to say either effort is unworthy; in fact, we support major overhauls of both systems. But it’s curious to see the president working so hard to establish rights for men and women who violated existing immigration law — and who could very well end up with shared healthcare benefits, hospital visitation rights, inheritance provisions, and burial decisions — while gay Americans, born and raised within the United States’s borders, receive nothing.
Imagine the real possibility that immigration reform could result in a law that would prohibit employers from firing an employee (who arrived in the U.S. before the cut-off date) based on his documentation status — while employers remain free to fire LGBT employees, just ’cause.
This isn’t an effort to fearmonger about “those scary immigrants.” Far from it, we welcome foreigners to this land, and grow increasingly tired of immigration opponents who hide behind “protecting jobs” to mask their blatant racism. Nor are we saying immigration rights should be pushed aside, or delayed, until gays get their protections. But the White House’s agenda shows the priorities of Washington again neglect safeguarding America’s own citizens who happen to be gay.
More curious is that immigration reform — mostly talked about as a way to manage job creation and elimination — will affect an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants. But if just five percent of America’s population (around 304 million people) is gay, that’s 15.2 million homos living here. And surely they deserve some of these same protections. BECAUSE THEY ARE CITIZENS.
Napolitano, hoping to drum up support, believes “Congress shouldn’t worry about the possible political consequences of tackling hard issues” like immigration reform, reports the Arizona Republic, because, she says, “the big items on the agenda that need to be done for the long-term future of the country.” The White House has yet to issue the same guidance for lawmakers wishing to support LGBT rights. Nor has the White House included LGBT rights as necessary for “the long-term future of the country.”