Obama’s Immigration Speech Audience to Include LGBT Group

President Obama plans to give what the White House is billing as an address regarding the need for comprehensive immigration reform at American University in the District on Thursday morning, July 1. Today, The Wall Street Journal reported that New York City Michael Bloomberg would be among those in attendance.

One of the questions is the extent to which the president will discuss the Uniting American Families Act, which provides family protections for binational couples, and several other legislative immigration issues of concern to some of the LGBT community, from student issues to asylum concerns.

Steve Ralls, communications director for Immigration Equality, sent the following statement to Metro Weekly on Wednesday afternoon regarding Thursday’s speech:

Immigration Equality has been invited by the White House to join the President for tomorrow’s remarks.  We do not have an advance copy of the President’s speech, but our hope and understanding is that he plans to make speak out strongly in favor of tackling comprehensive immigration reform soon.  As the current Congress enters its final months of work, President Obama’s speech can be instrumental in ensuring this issue remains on the radar, and agenda, of lawmakers.  Our hope is that President Obama will indeed identify immigration reform as a priority for his Administration, and this Congress, this year.

Immigration Equality, and LGBT immigrants and their families, will be listening closely tomorrow.  For the families we work with, time is of the essence.  Each day that Congress fails to act, LGBT families move closer to separation, or spend another day in exile.

There are a number of important immigration issues the LGBT community cares about, including issues related to humane detention standards, a path to citizenship for undocumented LGBT people, asylum for those persecuted because of sexual orientation and gender identity, and family unification for binational couples.  Our hope is that Congress, spurred by a commitment from the President tomorrow, will work to pass a comprehensive bill that positively addresses those critical issues.

One group that might not agree is GOProud, which opposed the recent move by the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to boycott Arizona because of its recently passed immigration law. Executive director Jimmy LaSalvia said in a statement on Wednesday:

The decision by the leadership of the gay left to support the Arizona boycott over an issue totally unrelated to gay rights shows just how beholden they are to the union bosses.

The Arizona boycott is being spear-headed by the Service Employees International Union, and the law at the center of the boycott has nothing even tangentially to do with the rights of gay and lesbian Americans lawfully in this country.  The decision to participate in this boycott, over the objections of local groups like the Greater Phoenix Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, puts the interests of organized labor over those of the gay and lesbian Arizonans hurt by this protest.

Whether it’s current boycotts, like the Arizona boycott or the boycott of the Manchester Hyatt in San Diego, or previous boycotts, like the boycott of Coor’s Brewing – Gay, Inc. is always willing to do the bidding of the big union bosses, regardless of its impact on gays and lesbians.

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