A bill that would allow same-sex binational couples the same immigration rights as straight couples was reintroduced to Congress yesterday.
The bill, known as the Uniting American Families Act, was introduced in the House by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and in the Senate by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). Versions of the bills have been introduced in each session of Congress since 2000, when the legislation was known as the Permanent Partners Immigration Act. Current law allows spouses of foreign nationals to sponsor their immigration to the United States, and the bill would allow the partners of gay foreign nationals to bring them into the country on the same basis.
In a conference call with reporters Thursday, Nadler said he submitted the bill because it’s “gratuitous cruelty to keep people who love each other apart.” Nadler said there’s a “fair chance” the legislation could pass this session. He said one possibility for passing the bill would be to fold it into a larger immigration omnibus bill. Nadler said if UAFA becomes law, incidents of fraud would carry “the same harsh penalties” as they do for married couples. Fraud would be punishable by up to five years in prison and as much as $250,000 in fines, according to Immigration Equality.