On January 10, 2013, Senator Patty Murray convened a group of stakeholders to discuss immigration reform. The Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) was invited as a representative of the LGBT and business communities.
Senator Murray pledged to fight for comprehensive immigration reform that would reunite families, create a pathway of citizenship for undocumented and address border issues. Several speakers attended to tell their personal stories. A gay man, who came to the United States as a college student, fell in love with another man but had difficulty with commitment because he feared his visa would not be renewed and he would need to leave the country. One woman shared that the deportation of her husband resulted in the separation of their family. She was left to be the sole supporter of their children. Her husband has illegally returned to the United States and the family lives in constant fear that their family will be ripped apart by his deportation in the future. Another woman talked about filing her application for permanency and has been waiting more than fourteen years in limbo.
Representatives from several immigration, advocacy and labor organizations joined with GSBA to voice their priorities for inclusion in an immigration reform bill. GSBA presented three of its priorities: (1) Reuniting LGBT families, allowing same-sex foreign national partners and spouses of U.S. citizens to gain permanent residency; (2) Extending federal student financial aid to “Dreamers” to enable them to attend college and pursue professional careers; and (3) Increasing visa and residency options for foreign students who attend college in the United States and want to remain to work and live in our country, particularly in the technology and science industries where employers are unable to fill positions with qualified U.S. citizens. GSBA also suggested that our country engage in a serious conversation about K through 12 STEM education and increasing the number of U.S. college graduates that can fill the needs of U.S. employers in the science and technology industries.