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Immigration is an
LGBT issue

Immigration is an
LGBT issue

Chavez

Christine Chavez, former UFW California political director and granddaughter of the late civil rights leader Cesar Chavez, says gays and lesbians everywhere stand to gain by working together for the rights of immigrants

There are thousands of LGBT immigrants living in this country working alongside all immigrants to provide for themselves and their families. Not only do we immigrants represent not only a valuable part of America's economy; our experiences and lives help to honor and shape this country's future. And as shared experiences and histories exist between immigrant and LGBT communities, we should remind ourselves that no movement has ever succeeded without friends and allies.

What we need is to help people organize and make a difference. To change our immigration laws, we need to organize parents, families, and students to stand alongside all immigrant families. We need a comprehensive plan, such as an amendment to current immigration legislation offered by U.S. senator Dianne Feinstein and based on the United Farm Workers-sponsored "AgJobs" bill, which would provide a legal and stable workforce and allow hardworking undocumented immigrants to earn the right to stay in this country permanently to perform crucial work.

There is nothing to lose and everything to gain by organizing and supporting one another. Immigration laws at all levels need change. The current ban on HIV-positive immigrants continues to keep families from reuniting, and thousands of binational couples still cannot sponsor their partners for residency status. Living as complete legal strangers in their own homes is not the solution, and there is an opportunity to make these issues even more visible in today's immigration debate.

The marches and rallies by hundreds of thousands of immigrants and their supporters represent solidarity and an issue that carries into all parts of our daily lives. Think of the people who help pick our food, build our homes, or clean our businesses. Without them, we would find America a little harder to live in. There are many LGBT people who have come to stand with LGBT immigrants and all hardworking immigrants, and there will likely be many opportunities for even more to participate and make change.

What we should not do is divide people and communities on the civil rights front. There is no such thing as a limited supply of rights, and no community can be successful in achieving full equality while tolerating discrimination against others.

It is that simple.

There is an opportunity here to build stronger ties among communities, and there is a place at the table for all people to come together. The National Black Justice Coalition, the National Latino Coalition for Justice, Freedom to Marry, the United Farm Workers--all of these organizations have an opportunity to build stronger coalitions. LGBT people still lack basic protections in many parts of this country, and even the basic right to care and provide for their families is still being denied. There is a history that connects the lives of immigrants, LGBT immigrants, and LGBT people as a whole. This is about discrimination and vulnerability, and the time has come to organize all people to help create change.

Equality is achieved by the integrity and strength of a movement. This also means we have a choice. Either we help our friends in their time of need or stay home and watch them on television. I know you will make the right decision.

Todas nuestras familias merecen respaldo.

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