Pinkwashing, in this context, involves making immigration reform look pro-gay to garner LGBT support in order to mask the severe drawbacks of the legislation. Because LGBT people have been at the bottom of society for so long, many people mistakenly see some forms of “gay rights” as a marker for progress or modernity.


There are serious, deleterious harms as a consequence of what some may view as coalition building between mainstream immigration reform advocacy groups and LGBT groups. The end result of pinkwashing immigration reform is threefold. First, the United States masquerades as a haven for gays, lesbians and undocumented immigrants, who wrap themselves up in an American flag and declare their allegiance to U.S. nationalism, even as the state produces and reproduces conditions that lead to more migrants fleeing their homes. Second, through pinkwashing, the United States continues to expand the immigration detention and deportation complex even while appearing to pursue reforms for all. And finally, pinkwashing ensures that the only piece of legislation that could have directly benefited gays and lesbians – providing immigration rights to same-sex partners of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents through the Uniting American Families Act – gets thrown under the bus.

All families, and not just ones with heterosexual couples, deserve to benefit from just and fair immigration reform. This includes ending all deportations, eliminating the Secure Communities program and repealing the draconian detention system and unlawful presence bars, providing immigration benefits for same-sex partners – all of which won’t make it into the final legislation that is likely to be hailed as a victory by the immigration and LGBT nonprofit industrial complex, even as it spells a disaster for migrants and Americans alike.