In between rainy hours, about three dozen activists gathered in Doral to protest against Senator Marco Rubio’s (R-Fl) latest move in the immigration debate that has become the largest non-issue of Washington, D.C. The controversial immigration bill, hoping to give undocumented aliens a small light at the end of a long tunnel, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday after gay couples were taken out of the process.
The immigration bill, sponsored by the so-called Gang of Eight, offers legal residency to non-criminal immigrants that arrived before December 2011. But even then, it would only be after a 10 year-period and thousands of dollars in fees and taxes that the aliens would be awarded a green card, unless family members petition for unity earlier.
The Democrats involved in the writing of the bill, such as Patrick Leahy (D-Vt), included an amendment that would give gays and lesbians the right to petition for partners. A Republican showdown from Marco Rubio and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz) among others managed to take out the amendment from the bill after threatening to throw away the whole deal.
On Wednesday, GetEQUAL and other pro-immigrant groups organized a protest at Senator Rubio’s office in Doral. “I myself am gay and I’m in a relationship with someone who is about to become a U.S. citizen and he can’t petition for me,” Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez told the Miami Herald. Susa-Rodriguez was one of the organizers of the protest.
There were only about 30 demonstrators on Wednesday, but the timeframe was short and the organization was quick, which shows that people are paying attention to the details of the immigration debate. Unfortunately for the protestors, Congressmen have a tendency to show a deaf ear to such protestors and Marco Rubio is far from the idea of compromising on the issue.
What the protestors should focus on if they want to gain more support is the dubious legality of the “reform”. We should keep in mind that the issue of LGBT relations is only a state issue and the federal government has no business in defining what constitutes a real relationship. By prohibiting gay and lesbian family reunions, it not only violates state rights, it also promotes federal discrimination.
And what about the rest of the bill? Maybe Senator Rubio and the rest of the Gang has forgotten that the Constitution prohibits Congress from having any immigration policy whatsoever. A heritage from the Articles of Confederation, the only stranger-related issue the federal government has a constitutional voice on is naturalization, which is not the same as immigration at all.
The Doral protestors were right to complain, but this small issue is only a piece of a much larger puzzle that is the heart of the problem. The only viable and constitutional immigration reform is decentralization, letting the states compete for a better immigration system.