Our VoiceImmigration

Attacks On LGBTQ Community Part Of The Anti-immigrant Agenda

Chris Bober • Jun 09, 2010

Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, is in the news again attacking immigrants. This time his target is the LGBTQ community - specifically bi-national, same-sex families.

In a June 4 article in the Boston Globe, Mr. Krikorian went on record opposing the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to grant a temporary parole to Genesio Oliveira of Brazil. The humanitarian parole allows Mr. Oliveira to be reunited with his spouse, Tim Coco, for one year. Although they were married in Massachusetts in 2005, Mr. Coco has been unable to sponsor his spouse for legal residency because their marriage is not recognized under federal law.

In the same article, Mr. Krikorian is quoted saying,

“It’s a side-door attempt at changing the Defense of Marriage Act…that’s the problem with our immigration laws; it’s just this vast collection of exceptions for people who get the attention of a particular bureaucrat or judge or politician.”

According to the Boston Globe, Mr. Krikorian also indicated the decision was unfair to Haitian immigrants who have been seeking asylum in the aftermath of the devastating hurricane.

This last point is indeed surprising given that Mr. Krikorian wrote about Haiti after the hurricane in the National Review Online (January 21, 2010) saying, “My guess is that Haiti’s so screwed up because it wasn’t colonized long enough.”

Like many in the John Tanton Network, Mr, Krikorian will clearly say anything to attack immigrants—even if it means contradicting himself.

Typically anti-immigrant groups directly target people of color with their rhetoric, conspiracy theories and, legislation. However, at times they use homophobic rhetoric to rally their supporters and further their cause.

William Gheen, the president and spokesman for American’s for Legal Immigration (ALIPAC), has recently been fixated on Senator Lindsey Graham’s sexual orientation. According to Mike Madden of Salon.com, in a press release Gheen called for Graham to “make his homosexual lifestyle public knowledge in the interest of political integrity and national security.”

At a Tea Party protest in Greenville, S.C., Mr. Gheen addressed a cheering crowd shouting, “Senator Graham, you need to come forward and tell people about your alternative lifestyle and your homosexuality…I need to figure out why you’re trying to sell out your own countrymen and I need to make sure you being gay isn’t it.”

Mr. Gheen has clearly made Senator Graham a target due to his past support of immigration reform. His effort to turn honest debate into a rhetorical sideshow and Mark Krikorian’s persistent immigrant bashing have helped perpetuate the status quo on immigration. This lack of favorable change in immigration policy has had a profound effect on the LGBTQ community.

Dave Bennion (Change.org) writes in a 2009 blog, “LGBT immigrants tend to fall through the crack of the immigration system much more frequently than hetero immigrants. Many of the available immigration remedies and defenses against deportation are predicated on traditional hetero nuclear family relationships.”

According to Kilian Melloy in a June 4 blog for Edge: “An estimated 36,000 same-sex couples involve an American Citizen and a person of a different nationality. Unlike heterosexual couples, bi-national same-sex families are not provided for under U.S. immigration law, meaning that they face long periods of separation.”

Given the reality that gay and lesbian families face, several groups have been out front on this issue—notably Out4Immigration and Immigration Equality. Out4Immigration is a volunteer grassroots organization that addresses the widespread discriminatory impact of U.S. immigration laws on the LGBTQ community. Immigration Equality is a national organization that advocates for equality under the immigration law for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), and HIV-positive individuals. (Please check out both groups’ websites for more information on their important work in this area).

Mark Krikorian, William Gheen, and others in the anti-immigrant movement use the immigration debate to promote an ideology which attacks those who do not fit their vision of America. This includes all people of color and it includes the LGBTQ community.

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