Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Immigration Meets DOMA-- No Big Deal, Says Senile Chuck Grassley


Every time some spoiled multimillionaire piece of garbage announces he's leaving the U.S. because taxes are too high, right-wing sites and fringe lunatics like Satanist Bryan Fischer go wild on twitter. Fischer's latest hysteria was brought on when over-the-hill Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao said he won't fight in America any more because the tax bite is too high. Awwwwwww. Don't let the door hit you on the way out... and, please, don't come back. Yesterday, though, the NY Times featured the story of two young men the country should be genuinely sad to see leave, Brandon Perlberg and Benn Storey. They're living in London now instead of New York. Our loss.
Perlberg, an American who is gay, now lives in London. Early last year he reluctantly left his law firm, rented out his apartment and said goodbye to friends. After nearly seven years in the United States on legal but temporary visas, his partner had not been able to obtain a visa as a permanent resident. The two were facing the possibility of permanent separation.

Americans with a foreign-born spouse of the opposite sex are able to get them resident visas, or green cards, with relative ease. But federal law does not allow Americans to petition for green cards for same-sex spouses or partners. Eventually, they face a choice of remaining in the country with the immigrant here illegally or leaving the United States.

“Ultimately, we resolved that staying together was the most important thing for us,” Mr. Perlberg said. “And the only way to guarantee that we got to stay together was by making this move.”

Mr. Perlberg is part of a diaspora of gay Americans who have found they had to uproot and leave the country to continue to live with foreign partners. And this year, binational gay couples like his are a new-- and controversial-- focus of the debate in Washington on an ambitious overhaul of immigration laws. In a blueprint that President Obama presented last month, he pledged to give citizens, and also immigrants who are legal residents, the ability to petition for a green card for a same-sex foreign partner, if they can show they have “a permanent relationship.”

The Supreme Court will also take up same-sex issues this year, with hearings in March on two cases that challenge the definition of marriage as being a union between only a man and a woman. One case deals directly with a 1996 statute, the Defense of Marriage Act, that prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage and governs the exclusion of gay couples from visas and other immigration benefits.

The politics of same-sex marriage are rapidly shifting, with polls showing Americans viewing it increasingly favorably but still divided. Many Republican voters strongly oppose it. Leading Republican lawmakers have questioned whether Congress should include such a hotly disputed issue in the debate when it will also wrangle with giving legal status to 11 million illegal immigrants.

“There are so many other, bigger issues the Congress has to resolve in immigration reform before we would even get to a point where we would be discussing a change to a longstanding policy like this,” said Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the highest-ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is working to prepare immigration legislation.

The restrictions in the marriage act, known as DOMA, have a direct impact on Americans with foreign-born spouses or partners who want to live in the United States.

“A straight couple living in the U.S. can apply for a green card based on their spousal relationship,” said Rachel B. Tiven, the executive director of Immigration Equality, a legal advocacy group focusing on gays and lesbians. “Gay couples simply can’t do that.”

For the first time, in Mr. Obama’s blueprint, same-sex couples have been included in a comprehensive framework for immigration legislation.

The president “has long believed that Americans with same-sex partners from other countries should not be faced with the painful choice between staying with the person they love or staying in the country they love,” the White House spokesman, Jay Carney, said when Mr. Obama announced his plan in Las Vegas on Jan. 29.

The president’s proposal was echoed in a bill introduced last week in the Senate by Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, a Democrat who is the Judiciary Committee chairman, and Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican. A similar bill was introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this month.

Mr. Perlberg, 34, has been following the debate in Washington from the apartment in London where he landed with his partner, Benn Robert Storey, 31. In a telephone interview, they recalled that Mr. Storey had never felt like an exile during the years they lived together in New York. A graphic designer, Mr. Storey already had a job and a work visa lined up when he moved to the United States.

“I did not feel like a British person in New York, I felt like a New Yorker,” Mr. Storey said. “And during that time, my relationship with Brandon grew stronger and stronger.”

But the end of Mr. Storey’s temporary visas was approaching. Because he does not have an advanced degree in a technical profession, lawyers advised them that Mr. Storey’s chances of gaining a green card based on his employment were very slim.

The uncertainty of Mr. Storey’s immigration future became “a dark cloud that hung over our relationship,” Mr. Perlberg said. In July 2011, same-sex marriage became legal in New York State. But under the federal marriage law, Mr. Storey still would not have been eligible for a green card as a spouse.
Unlike Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh, I wasn't a draft dodger. My lottery number was high enough to exempt me from the draft. But I decided I didn't want to live in the U.S. while any taxes I paid could, at least in theory, go towards buying the bombs and napalm being rained down on the heads of the Vietnamese people whose cause I supported, at least emotionally, with every fiber of my being. So I lived in Amsterdam. The Dutch government made it very easy for Americans to live there. I even had a government job. The issue may not be important to Chuck Grassley-- who is, after all 79 and basically senile more often than he's lucid-- but it is the most important issue in the world to hundreds of thousands of people whose lives are impacted by a law that should never have been passed to begin with and is on its last legs in any case.

Also over the weekend, Marco Rubio, desperate to somehow make his party's far right base think his own immigration reform is not about what right-wing loons call "amnesty," attacked President Obama's plan and called it "dead on arrival." Kentucky crackpot Rand Paul did the "Me Too" Dance.
Congressional Republicans on Sunday criticized a White House plan on immigration reform that allows illegal immigrants to become legal, permanent residents within eight years-- saying Congress will never pass such a proposal and questioning President Obama’s intent.

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul said the plan is untenable and so outside of what the country wants that it suggests Obama is not sincere about passing immigration reform.

“The president is torpedoing his own plan,” Paul told Fox News Sunday. “It shows me he is really not serious. … The bill won’t pass.”

The draft immigration bill being circulated by the White House also includes plans for a new visa for illegal immigrants living in the United States, as first reported by USA Today.

Obama's bill would create a "Lawful Prospective Immigrant" visa for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the country. The bill includes more security funding and requires business owners to adopt a system for verifying the immigration status of new hires within four years, the newspaper said.

On Saturday, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio called the White House proposal "half-baked and seriously flawed."

Rubio-- part of an eight-member, bipartisan Senate panel working on an immigration reform bill--- also said the proposal was disappointing to those “working on serious solutions” and repeats failures of past legislation.

He said the White House also erred in not seeking input from Republican lawmakers.

"If actually proposed, the president's bill would be dead on arrival in Congress, leaving us with unsecured borders and a broken legal immigration system for years to come," Rubio said in a statement.

...USA Today also reported that the bill would require that immigrants pass a criminal background check, submit biometric information and pay fees to qualify for the new visa.

Immigrants who served more than a year in prison for a criminal conviction or were convicted of three or more crimes and were sentenced to a total of 90 days in jail would not be eligible. Crimes committed in other countries that would bar immigrants from legally entering the country would also be ineligible.

...Clark Stevens, a White House spokesman, said Saturday that Obama still supports a bipartisan effort to craft a comprehensive immigration bill. "While the president has made clear he will move forward if Congress fails to act, progress continues to be made and the administration has not prepared a final bill to submit," he said in a statement.

Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, described the draft bill as a "very moderate" proposal. While the path to citizenship was welcomed by Noorani, he said not enough attention was being paid to future immigration.

"Commonsense immigration reform must include a functioning immigration system for the future," Noorani said in a statement. "Reform does not begin and end with citizenship and enforcement alone."
In contrast, Republican icon Newt Gingrich was on ABC-TV's This Week Sunday and he told viewers that basically Republicans just hate Obama, don't recognize him as the legitimate president of the country and will oppose anything and everything he proposes... just because he proposes it. Watch:

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