Commentary: At Last I Have A Green Card, But Many Others Still Wait

After 23 years in the U.S., I finally have in my hands on that much-coveted green card.

I got permanent residency thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last June upending section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). My husband and I finally have our marriage recognized by the federal government.  It was an easy and expeditious process, which belied our struggle with the immigration system throughout our 15 years together.

Two months after my spouse submitted his petition, we were called in for an interview. We were asked the most basic of questions, confirming who we claimed to be, how we met, and when the other was born. The adjudicator examined our legal and financial documents and made copies of our wedding pictures. That was it.

He didn’t even bother with other “evidence” we had painstakingly and obsessively put together for months, collected in a three-ring binder. A week and a day after the interview, my permanent resident card arrived in our mailbox.

John and I are very happy and extremely relieved. We are well aware that we are among the more fortunate ones. Not all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) immigrants are as lucky. The Williams Institute estimates that there are about 7,000 non-citizen gay couples and that some 267,000 undocumented immigrants identify as LGBT. These individuals have not benefitted from the Supreme Court’s ruling, but they will benefit from comprehensive immigration reform which includes a path to legalization.

A couple of weeks ago, President Obama once again called for passage of immigration reform. He rightfully argues that fixing our immigration system is good for the economy and our national security, and, ultimately, for all of us.

“It doesn’t make sense to have 11 million people who are in this country illegally without any incentive or any way for them to come out of the shadows, get right with the law, meet their responsibilities and permit their families then to move ahead,” Obama said. “It’s not smart. It’s not fair. It doesn’t make sense.”

It is highly unlikely, however, that Congress will take up immigration reform this year with only a short time left in the legislative calendar and the Tea Party Caucus controlling the Republican majority in the House.  So the work continues.

My husband and I and other gay binational couples may have won our own personal battles with the immigration system, but we still have the responsibility to help other immigrants out of the quagmire.

Fi2W is supported by the David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation and the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation.

AboutErwin de Leon
Erwin de Leon is a Policy Researcher and writer based in Washington, DC. He writes on immigration, LGBT, and nonprofit issues. You can follow him on Twitter at @ErwindeLeon.