Achieving LGBT Equality Through Litigation, Legislation, Policy, and Public Education

Summary & History

Asylum & Immigration

Legislation: Reuniting Families Act (RFA)

STATUS: Pending, Federal

The Reuniting Families Act (RFA) is an amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act that would offer a more comprehensive and humane family-based immigration system. With the goal of providing a more efficient and timely way for lawful immigrant families to reunite, the RFA would provide equal treatment towards all immigrant families, including its members. Most notably, the RFA would eliminate discrimination against lawful lesbian and gay immigrants, and their families, by expanding the legal definition of recognized relationships and include “permanent partners” as a protected class deserving the rights given under RFA. In doing so, lawful immigrant lesbian and gay individuals or couples who were separated from their families can reunite without prejudice. 

With the reunification of lawful immigrant families’ often taking years, even decades, due to visa backlogs, insufficient staffing, and visa quotas, RFA would provide alternatives for a timelier reunification process. For example, RFA would reclassify lawful permanent resident spouses and children as “immediate relatives”, diminish measures that prevent family members from obtaining visas, and reclassify “child” to also include stepchild under the age of 21. 

Where families, regardless of their make-up, are essential to the growth, sustainability, and security of any community, RFA provides a simplified solution for lawful immigrant families to reunite. 

As of June 1, 2011, the House version of RFA (HR 1796) was referred to the House subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement.

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