While gay rights and immigration may not initially seem like a logical pairing to most South Carolina residents, the two issues have more in common than one would think. The nation's view of immigration has changed over the years. Many more Americans have a more positive outlook on the impact of immigration. Society's view of social reform in terms of gay rights and gay marriage has also seen a dramatic shift. As more and more laws are being passed with regards to social reform, the pathway is being made for immigration reform.
In 1986, roughly 49% of Americans were for a decrease in immigration with only 7% advocating for an increase. The remaining individuals opted to maintain the status quo. In a poll taken in July of last year, the shift was significant. A surprising 23% were in favor of increased immigration, while only 35% were in favor of decreased immigration. So, why the shift?
There are many possible answers to this question. It could be that there are approximately 40 million Americans who are foreign- born. It could also be that the majority of Americans live in areas where there is already a great immigration population, or where the population of immigrants is rapidly growing. Lastly, it could be a change in perception. In the poll, only 27 percent of individuals aged 18- to 29-years-old agreed with the idea that the U.S. is superior to other countries. By contrast, roughly half of Americans aged 65 and over agreed with that idea.
Although the public perception is shifting, as it is with gay rights, there are still many legal challenges that individuals face while the law is catching up to social changes. Many immigrants are still facing the issue of obtaining legal permanent resident status in the U.S. Applying for residency is a bit more straightforward when the individual is already in the U.S. legally, but there are other exceptions to obtaining permanent status.
Some of these exceptions can fall under the Violence against Women Act or when circumstances would place an undue hardship on the individuals or their family members if they were removed. In these cases, the undocumented immigrant must have been in the country for at least 10 years. Experienced immigration attorneys can assist those who are facing immigration related issues and ensure their rights are protected.
Source: Bloomberg News, "Gay Rights Can Unlock Immigration Reform", Feb. 11, 2014