On the 50th Anniversary of the Immigration and Nationality Act, Changes Are Needed to Protect LGBT Immigrants


Ugandan gay rights activist John Abdallah Wambere, right, embraces attorney Janson Wu at the end of a news conference in Boston.


This year marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act, or INA, which ushered in the birth of America’s current legal immigration system. Yet while the INA represented a fairer approach to immigration, it also created new restrictions on admissibility, specifically for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, people. It was not until 2013 that married binational same-sex couples received equal treatment under U.S. immigration law and could live without fear of being separated by deportation. Despite reforms, there remain many restrictions on LGBT immigrants who wish to lawfully enter and remain in the United States.

Although we have seen great progress in the 50 years since the INA was passed, additional measures are needed in order to ensure that LGBT immigrants are not disproportionately disadvantaged in attempting to access the legal immigration system. The United States must also confront the issues that the bipartisan immigration reform bill passed by the Senate in 2013 sought to solve. Remedying these problems will create a fairer immigration system for thousands of LGBT immigrants and their families who are looking to the United States for safety and equal treatment under the law.