Same-Sex Marriage and Immigration Rights – An Issue That Could Tear Apart the Open Borders Coalition?

By David North on December 2, 2009

There is a question in current U.S. immigration policy debate that has the potential for tearing apart the Open Borders coalition: should the U.S. recognize same-sex marriages in the immigration context?

In other words, should we grant marital visas to aliens marrying Americans of the same sex?

Before I discuss the potential uproar on this subject let me state my own views, which are not necessarily those of the Center for Immigration Studies. I am much more concerned about the environmental damage done by too many migrants and their children than I am about the sexual preferences of adult immigrants. Perfectly rational people disagree with me.

Thus I recognize that unlike the great bulk of immigrants – who are "breeders" in the vernacular of the gay community – homosexual immigrants tend not to reproduce, thus creating none of the follow-on demographic and environmental impacts of immigrants, generally. So I would rather see a mix of, say, 20 percent homosexual immigrants to 80 percent breeding immigrants, instead of having 100 percent of the immigrant cohort consisting of people who have children.

There are ongoing efforts to change the law so that immigrant visas can be granted to the alien, same-sex spouse of a U.S. resident or citizen. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), an openly gay member of the House, is one of 102 sponsors of such legislation. He wants the matter to be covered in an over-all immigration reform bill.

My point is that this issue could spread wondrous dissension within the ranks of the Open Borders advocates.

It is obvious that some elements of the Open Borders coalition would want gay marriages to be honored by DHS; such as urban liberals, and civil rights and gay rights organizations. Most of the immigration bar would probably take the same stand. Other significant Open Border forces, notably the Catholic Church and probably some Hispanic organizations, would be opposed.

With any luck the pattern we are seeing with the health reform debate would repeat itself. Some Democratic House members are now saying they will vote for health care reform only if it contains the public option; others are saying that they will vote for a health bill only if does not contain the public option. That disagreement may well prove fatal to any proposed health bill.

Similar dueling positions might emerge about an Open Borders immigration bill, with the recognition of gay marriages as the fatal wedge issue. Restrictionists would quietly applaud the vehement disputes in the other camp.

It appears to me unlikely that an immigration bill acceptable to the restrictionists will come out of the current Congress; perhaps the most that the restrictionists can hope for is no bill at all – and a lusty gay marriage dispute among the Open Borders types would, indeed, be very helpful.

Were I a restrictionist lobbyist I would encourage the addition of Barney Frank's bill in the overall immigration reform legislation at the committee level; this would be an (admittedly devious) effort to build into the legislative package a provision that would make the whole bill less likely to pass. In the field of corporate mergers such maneuvers are called "poison pills." The leaders of the corporation that does not want to be merged out of existence adjust the internal finances of the company in such a way that makes it less attractive to would-be corporate raiders.

There is, of course, a continuing influx of gay immigrants, arriving as labor-certification-carrying workers, refugees, asylees, and close relatives (but not spouses) of citizens and greencard holders. For many years the old Immigration and Naturalization Service pressured the Public Health Service to rule that gays had an excludable medical condition; but the PHS would not go along. In the 1990 Immigration Act Congress settled the matter by removing homosexuality as a ground for exclusion of incoming immigrants. For more on the history of immigration and homosexuality see the CIS backgrounder on the subject by James R. Edwards Jr.