On my show tomorrow at 10a.m. and 1p.m. EST, I speak to a man who lives a life of contradictions. He is British but he writes about American politics. He's a political conservative (self-identified) but he was named one of the 25 most influential liberals in America by Forbes magazine.
Andrew Sullivan is a blogger for The Daily Beast. He's the former editor of The New Republic. In the follow excerpt from our interview, we discussed his struggles to get a Green Card as a gay and HIV-positive man.
Fareed Zakaria: Andrew, I've known you for almost 30 years now. And you were always passionately interested in America - in American politics. Like me, you're an immigrant. But you have only very recently been able to get a Green Card - be a permanent resident of this country that you love, that you've identified with. Why?
Andrew Sullivan: There are two reasons. One, because I'm HIV positive and have been since 1993. And, secondly, because I'm gay. And my marriage, which is legal in both my resident states - Massachusetts and Washington, DC - is not recognized by the federal government. So I am not granted an automatic Green Card by virtue of marriage, along with everybody who happens to be in a same-sex marriage.
Fareed Zakaria: And, of course, if you were straight and you were married, you would automatically...
Andrew Sullivan: It would be automatically granted, because people understand that if you fall in love with someone, you want to build your life with them. And if you've been married, as we have now, for four years, together for eight, that's something to tear people apart like that, is an injustice to the American involved.
You know, American citizens, I don't think, ever thought that the right to the pursuit of happiness did not include the right to marry the person you love. But for a whole number of Americans, gay Americans, that happens to be true.
And you see it most explicitly with immigration, because it's a federal issue.
The marriages in the states that are legal are not recognized by the federal government because of the Defense of Marriage Act. And, therefore, immigration law does not apply to them, as it would to heterosexual married couples.
The other reason is that - and this is how I found out - just before my medical, they take blood from you. In 1993, I did my own private medical - I had no idea. I really didn't expect it - and found out I had HIV. And back in '93, that was a death sentence.
But I will tell you, in all candor, the thing that I grieved most about that day was the fact that I had to withdraw my Green Card application, which had been approved in every other respect. I was about to become an American, as I had long dreamed of. And it was dashed because of this.
I was more crushed by being excluded from America than I was fearful of dying.
Fareed Zakaria: But when you would talk to politicians - because you're so well connected in Washington - and, as you say, this is the only disease which seems so obviously just discriminatory and cruel toward one set of people, what was the defense that people would give you?
Andrew Sullivan: There was no defense. They just weren't interested in it. Foreigners don't have a constituency in America. And gays have even less of one. And so I was amazed. I actually had one of these dinners with Bill Gates, who runs the AIDS Foundation. He was not even aware that this ban was in place. And naturally - I mean he is now - and helped to actually get the law changed.
People didn't know. Gay people didn't know, because the people affected couldn't come out and say, "I have HIV and I've been affected by this" without automatically rendering them liable to deportation or not being able to get in.
So there was also this enormous stigma that the federal government was attaching to HIV, which is, of course, the opposite of what you're trying to do in getting treatment and prevention.
I mean we are in a much better place now. It's all resolved. There was a point at which it was just the United States, Iran, Saudi Arabia....
China lifted this thing before the United States did. Yet the United States, as a funder of AIDS research, as a philanthropist around the world, is, by far, the biggest actor.
We couldn't have an AIDS conference in America for 18 years because of this, because none of the people coming - none of the people who were activists, who were HIV positive, from Africa or elsewhere - were able to come into the country.
Other people, I think of the blogger, Glenn Greenwald, who's an American and a very influential American blogger, he has to live in Rio de Janeiro because his spouse can't get a visa to live in the United States.
Fareed Zakaria: Because?
Andrew Sullivan: Because not recognized as a spouse. If the Defense of Marriage Act were to end, then this would end, too.
But this is the first time in history, including interracial marriage, that the federal government, in terms of immigration, has tried to split couples up. It didn't do it even with interracial. It recognized those states where interracial marriage was legal and didn't recognize them in those states where it was illegal. It deferred to the states.
This is the first time in American history that the federal government decided, 'We will split couples up.'
Fareed Zakaria: You have the Green Card, which means you automatically, at what point, can apply for citizenship?
Andrew Sullivan: I think it's five years. And I will do so as soon as I can. I've always felt to be a participant in this country's amazing debate. I'll have to say this, though, no actual American ever treated me any differently for being HIV positive, gay or British.
Fareed Zakaria: Well, maybe the third, huh?
Andrew Sullivan: Well, no, but it is. But whereas the third, it actually kind of gave you this ridiculous affirmation for being British, so I think it's one reason, unconsciously, I lost my accent. I couldn't stand that.
But to be an active participant in this debate, as an American, it makes a difference. It allows you to say, "We." And as a daily writer, that's a breakthrough. I can't tell you, I mean, it was the happiest day of my life when that came through.
And I just want very much to end the Defense of Marriage Act or to pass the American Families Act, which will allow the spouses of gay couples, who are legally married in the United States, not to be forced, if they're bi-national, to have to live elsewhere.
No American should be forced to choose between their spouse and their country. And yet increasing numbers of Americans are facing that.
Fareed Zakaria: When you become a citizen, as one naturalized American to another, I will send you a bottle of champagne.
Andrew Sullivan: Thank you very much. Maybe we'll drink it together.
Being granted a green card JUST because you get married to an American is ABSOLUTELY UNTRUE! My husband is CANADIAN and EVERYONE from the border police to judges told us that all we had to do was get married. Let me tell you that is so far from the truth and extremely upsetting. I am an American and my husband and I have paid thousands of dollars and have made that stressful trip to immigration so many times I don't care to count. To hear anyone say so nonchalantly that all you have to do is get married really doesn’t understand the meaning of getting married or becoming an American. I don't even care to read the rest of the article.
Exactly!!! I am American, married 3 years to a Nigerian and he just received his green card last month. I have also spent thousands of dollars on lawyers to secure this. Marriage to an American is not an automatic entry to the U.S.. Get your facts straight before you spout off lies in this article. TO BC, keep fighting. We never gave up and my husband will finally be here next month.
You married a nigerian! I hope youa re not white but black. Too bad you married a man from a country that cheats people thorugh the internet. Belive me once he comes here, he will dicth you. Nigerians cannot be trusted like other blacks, They are shameless and haev no integrity.
wow! yeah I am white, so what?? Keep your racist comments to yourself. And no, I do not believe anybody should be trusted as a whole. Too bad we have to live with people in the world like you.....
I totally agree with James. Jackie, you must be either stupid or maybe in on a scam. First of all you cannot trust a Nigerian and second you cannot trust a black man. Blacks have cheated me more than a few times. So keep your racism lecture to yourself. And statistics show what these people are. Nothing but thieves and thugs. Specially the american blacks.
@jackie, "Get your facts straight before you spout off lies in this article". Whom did you refer to? Fareed or Sullivan? Read the first half of the article again!
3 years for a green card is nothing. Gay people cant even get residency or a finance visa based on their relationship.
Some dear friends of ours who's wife has been living in the States for 8 years with an expired green card has just spend over $10,000.00 for his wife to get a green card! It's a crazy system that is set up for EVERYONE!
Jackie, I feel you pain and good luck to you. I was in the same boat as you few years ago. But thank God it is all over. To all of you ignorant people out there, not all Nigerians are involve in scam. There are lots of hard working Nigerians in this country paying more tax than those of you complaining. There may be few bad people in Nigeria just as it is in every nation. I remember that the first guy arrested in Afghanistan was a white American. That does not mean that all Americans are Taliban.
On the other hand, while I strongly condemn scamming, the scammers and the so called victims are equally guilty. The victims fall victims because they want to harvest where they did not sow. We will not hear the story if the deal had actually went through. Blame the victims as much as u blame the scammers.
I m a Nigerian and I have been in this country for more than 10yrs now. I work and pay my taxes. By the grace of God I will graduate from pharmacy school next year. So there are lots of hard working Nigerians all over the world.
Also, you need to know about lots of "legalized scamming" going on in this country as well.
Becoming a citizen isn't easy or "automatic".
But best wishes and good luck.
On the contrary. A Cuban who arrives on U.S. soil is automatically granted full benefits and citizenship.
I think the point is more that while it is certainly not automatic, immigrants who are married to American citizens are put into a different system than immigrants who want to come here without any connection. It is a much simpler process (it is NOT a simple process by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a simplER process).
The issue is more verification of the bona fide nature of the marriage. I used to assist in prosecuting "marriage fraud" cases where people paid money to American citizens to "Marry" them. It's a difficult thing because they actually GOT married, but it wasn't a "bona fide" marriage. So I became pretty familiar with the process and the kinds of things USCIS (United States Customs and Immigration Services) put people through to try to verify the marriage.
I totally agree withYou! I am an American Citizen, born amd raised in the United states, My husband is also Canadian, we have a 2 year old son, we have been seperated since Novenmber of 2009,He passed his interview and has been place on administrative review. We have no reason why, We are totally discouraged, I have 2 sick parents and son that has a compromised immune system, they refuse to answer any of our inquiries and we had hired a lawyer to make the proccess smoother, but nothing has helped us!
Being granted a green card (that is, Permanent Resident status) is not "automatic" but is not necessarily difficult, either. I am an American. I met a foreigner. We jumped through all the bureaucratic hoops with ease, filing out the forms (which are no more difficult than a moderately complex tax return), getting married, and obtaining her green card. We did not pay "thousands of dollars." If you are intelligent, have a good job, and show that the marriage is not fraudulent or a sham, the process can go quite smoothly. I know some people encounter difficulties, but it doesn't have to be that way.
It couldn't happen to a more hypocritical and deserving log-cabin Republican. Good riddance and I hope you can spend more time trying to influence politics that works against you in your native land.
This pos used to support the system that is working against him and probably still does. But when it comes to him taking d1ck up his ass, he is against it. What a hypocrite.
Sorry but he got his green card. He is going to bea citizen here..
"No American should be forced to choose between their spouse and their country." Well there are plenty of Americans who have to do that every day: the military. At a time when the US is waging two wars and so many families have a father, mother, spouse away from home for extended periods, the federal government is not going to be very sympathetic to your plea that you should have a green card because you want to live with your partner. It's sad, but true.
A gay with AIDS? welcome to America. We need more of your kind here. Please feel to have multiple boyfriends and share your special virus among them
What a sicko you are.
This article is complete BS! Fareed Zakaria, you want the full story on immigration to the US based on LEGAL marriage, how long it takes, how much it costs. Over 3 years and that is a traditional marriage with no red flags involved. Email me anytime and I will help you get your facts right – email@example.com
Another idea for GPS might be 'reverse brain drain' and the role that the immigration system plays, as technology workers decamp for India and China (you know, the type of people who founded over half of Silicon Valley companies) because of better opportunities and not having to spend 7-10 years in the same job (and hoping that it will last, given today's market).
In 1980 I married a lady from Iran that I had met going to night school. Caught a lot of flack for marrying 'one of them'. It took a while to get a green card for her as she was here on a student visa from before the revolution there. INS' main concern was that the marriage was on the level. We are still together 31 years later. I hear that now days it is harder. We did all of the paperwork ourselves – no lawyers involved – but it was not easy.
Newsflash Andrew Sullivan : This situation is not unique to you. I came to US in 1992 and did not get my green card until 2005. Even if you marry someone with Green card it takes a long time ( I agree it does not exclude them automatically).I am glad though that you are now a permanent resident
CNN every time I post your screen-er that you say you don't have, sends back some crap that I may have made that statement before. For whatever reason you will post mindless trash, when a POV that your editorial staffs political views are challenged, or stepped on you people just don't show them. Well screw this site, and the liberal clap trap that go's with it.
This article is full of inaccuracies. Being married to an American citizen does not automatically qualify you for a green card. My wife (a US Citizen) and I were married in England. It still took 18 months for me to get my permanent resident's card, and that after filling in numerous forms, having medical examinations, an interview at the US Embassy and spending a large sum of money in the process. Am I complaining? No. They needed to make sure I was serious both about my marriage and my willingness to endure the process. Do I need laws changing to accommodate me? Hell no. If you don't like the rules, don't play the game.
I agree with you completely and I don't complain. The U.S. has every right to make sure these marriages are "bona fide". My husband's second interview was nothing like his first. I guess they figure if you are willing to spend lots of time and money on lawyers and do all the things they ask, then your marriage is valid. It will be a very happy day next month when my husband arrives.
That guy is going to start scamming people as soon as he arrives. Guaranteed.
I have no problem with them making sure a marriage is bone fide but sometimes they do carry it far beyond reasonable. I have an employee who is an Americans citizen who was the manager of my branch in the UK. He married a british woman. They had 3 children owned property in common and had been married for 11 years when he wanted to transfer back to the US It took almost three years before she got her green card because for some reason one guy at INS decided that it wasn't a real marriage. They actually made them prove the parantage of all three children twice and decided to wait and see if the most recent child was his when they became pregnant. Reasonable yes. But sometimes they overdo it.
excellent post. Skepticism can be a good thing, but the INS and many American govt agencies apparently take vows to not bring common sense to the workplace (or wrap it so tightly with red tape, it's hard to find). It's embarrassing to hear the never-ending stories of how inefficient and backward we are as the "leader of the free world."
Al: So it WAS easy for you. Not "automatic" but still hardly a major problem. My wife and I did the same thing. We didn't consider 18 months and a few forms to file to be too big of a deal.
وردتنا معلومات من احد منتسبي الاستخبارات مفادها ما يلي :
قامت مجموعه من مهربي المخدرات تابعين الى منظمة " بدر" يرأسة هادي العامري بادخال ( ثمانيه ونصف ) طن من المخدرات ( حشيشه ) من ايران وعبر مدينة البصره ثم الى الناصريه لغرض تهريبها الى المملكه العربيه السعوديه وجزء من الكميه تذهب الى محافظات الوسط ( كربلاء – النجف – الديوانيه – بابل ) لبيعها في هذه المدن
تمكنت مفارز الاستخبارات في مدينة الناصريه من القاء القبض على المخدرات والمهربين وفورا تحرك المهربين للاتصال باللواء ( صباح الفتلاوي ) قائد شرطة ذي قار وتم الاتفاق معه على تسوية القضيه وعلى الشكل التالي ( بعد فحص كمية المخدرات وجدت انها حشيشه مغشوشه ) مقابل ( ٦٠ ) الف دولار تسلمها اللواء صباح من المهربين بغية اطلاق سراحهم من السجن وتسليم المخدرات ( المغشوشه ) ؟؟؟
ارسلت الاستخبارات معلومات الى وزارة الداخليه حول كمية المخدرات وتفاصيل الاتفاق الذي تم ما بين اللواء صباح الفتلاوي والمهربين تم الاتصال من قبل وزير الداخلية وكالة " عدنان الاسدي " برئيس الوزراء نوري المالكي " القائد العام للقوات المسلحه واعلمه بتفاصيل القضيه وكان جواب المالكي لوكيله عدنان الاتي : ( صباح الفتلاوي" ابنه " اكتفي بنقله الى بغداد اما المهربين وهم من ( منظمة بدر) امر المالكي باطلاق سراحهم مخاطبا وكيل وزير الداخليه ( تعرف ذوله من جماعة " هادي العامري " ( حزام ظهرنه ) ..
مع العرض ان المنظمه نشرت معلومات سابقه عن الخلاف الذي نشب بين اللواء صباح الفتلاوي شقيق ( لهلوبة المالكي ) بسبب قيام احد مرافقي " صباح " بشفط ( 80 ) الف دولار ارسلها بيده صباح الى اهله في محافظة بابل وهي مبالغ رشى المخدرات ولم يسترجعها له وهدده بكشف الاموال الطائله التي جناها شقيق حنان من تهريب المخدرات .
Are there any copy editors working at CNN? This is the most appalling indecipherable article I have ever seen on cnn.com. A disgrace.
Fareed – your message and the intent of this important article is entirely lost due the poor copy.
The gay guy is conservative? Another contradiction.
james and what , you must be republicans from alabama. why dont you play the banjo, drink moonshine , lose more teeth and accept the fact that the president is a black man.
Thank you loud. And I seen to recall my first husband who was American, white, republican , works for the government – and is the biggest lying, scamming, cheating, two-faced person I have ever known. Losers come is all colors and nationalities.
HIV positive, gay, and versatile in politics, in other words the cream of the crop from England. Don't forget to bring your friends too, what a heck, this is America.
Education is the best way to fight AIDS. Unfortunately, it's so obvious reading some of the knuckleheads' post that stupidity and ignorance are still the greatest evils we face today in America.
I agree, almost shocking how ignorant and hateful the posts are here. I think Andrew Sullivan
has really put himself out there, for the better, against shame and stigma.
The United States as any other country has full right to regulate its public health and not allow people who present danger to future health of the nation. I tell is as a new citizen, a mother to a US citizen son who went through the same application procedure as all other foreign spouses. I want my American baby to grow in a healthy society, in all senses.
That was supposed to say fiance' by the way.
Kudos to Andrew Sullivan for his appearance and emotional interview with Fareed. As an American teaching English in South Korea for six years, I was deported when Seoul changed its foreign worker requirements. Although Obama has changed the HIV law for internationals coming to USA, MANY nations (including China, Russia, and much of the Middle East) still discriminate against those with HIV/AIDS. Maybe America needs to consider this when we evaluate Human Rights?
On Sullivan's point that the US government still discriminates against our own gay people, he's on the mark! Conservative American policy-makers will always legislate hate against the repressed. Those small-minded White men will never want to let go of their power. I dream of the day when when we truly are the LAND OF THE FREE. Thank you, Mr. Sullivan, for bringing these issues to light.
You have swallowed hook, line and sinker, the propaganda of the American Left.
By the what you write, your ignorance of the true meaning of American conservatism is monumentally impenetrable.
In actuality, true conservatism is about liberty, but you will never understand. Such is the tolerance and intellectual curiosity of leftists.
No, Conservativism is about economic liberty – reducing restrictions on business and allowing it to function with as little oversight and as few restrictions as possible. Even gun rights can fall under that category – ignoring the fact that the right to have guns requires a good bit of reading into what the article says, the weakening of gun rights would cause a lot of damage to the gun industry by effectively placing regulations and restrictions on it. If you want to say that Conservativism is about liberty as a whole, you are either ignoring a wealth of evidence to the contrary or making the case that the vast majority of self-professed Conservatives these days are not true conservatives. I am not making an assessment of Liberalism here, so the following does not necessarily exclude it:
Personal liberties that Conservatives in this country have fought against include religious expression, examples being the backlash against Islam following 9/11, the imposition of a Judeo-Christian view of marriage on everyone – even those who do not practice Judeo-Christian faith, the attempt to impose a Judeo-Christian view of evolution on everyone – even those who do not practice the same faith, and the imposition of a largely arbitrary and ever-changing Judeo-Christian view on when life begins. I have no problem with someone saying "gay marriage is wrong" or "abortion is wrong" – you have the right to your beliefs and opinions. Those however are personal religious standards to live by, and forcing them on everyone else is tantamount to establishment of religion.
Your statements beg ignorance of fact. If you are going to make such blanket statements, you may want to at least attempt to scrounge up some evidence to support them. You started your response with a comment about buying hook line and sinker, but I think it's pretty obvious who that really applies to here.
Fareed, love your important program, but please do not allow untrue statements, in this case false claims about green card eligibility, and accusing the US government of discrimination, to go unaddressed on your program.
BC and other are right. Being granted a green card JUST because you get married to an American is ABSOLUTELY UNTRUE! My Canadian daughter took years to get green card status, despite being married to an American citizen (born in the US), and having a child, also an American citizen.
I know other similar stories... (And Mr Sullivan, spare me the self-pity. I myself have had to go through years of red tape to get my own citizenship status cleared up, being the child of a Canadian soldier born in Ireland - and that's for Canada!! - will spare you the boring details).
Mr. Sullivan - a journalist and former publisher - loses credibility with such patently false statements, and accusations of discrimination, and wallowing in self-pity.... and it diminishes your program to allow these remarks to go uncorrected.
I wonder if Mr Zakaria is aware that people with a mental illness are not even allowed in the country as a visitor leave alone allowed to file for a green card .This is regardless of financial guarantees by american citizen family members .
At least Mr. Sullivan has finally succeeded in his quest .How about getting someone to address that issue on your show MR.Zakaria?
Thank you Fareed for having Andrew on your show today; it was a pleasure to see and hear from him
on a show a bit more mainstream than Bill Maher. I think, it's also important that you included someone in your
show whom "ordinary" or middle Americans may not know, either because they follow radically different
paths or just aren't bright enough to have heard of the Atlantic Monthly.
Media bias and CNN! I watch CNN all the time and I have considered it the most unbiased news media. Clearly, the others are almost not news stations but arms of either political parties. It has actually become intolerable. BUT, todays coverage of Andrew Sullivan strikes me as out of bounds. Consider, someone wanting to BECOME American on CNN with Fareed feeding him soft leads and the 2 talking about how they want to change the country they have joined or want to join. "Let me in so I can change your country". Does this strike any one as being overly liberal? I don't want to increase our population with people who want to change this country even before they get here. What ever your beliefs or side, does not the citizens of a country get to decide the values of that country? I will now watch CNN with a much more critical ear and especially Zakaria, or maybe not watch so much any more.
Oh, should the US seek the addition of the sick to our citizens or anyone who pulls down the country? When does the US stop this kind of thinking, we can't feed, and treat anyone who might want to come hear for one of many reasons, including our excellent health care system just because it would be a good thing to do. Try this kind of thing in France or Germany, or any other liberal country, ANY!
I think Mr. Sullivan is misinformed. I personally of two American men married to Mexican women. Not only have they NOT been able to get green cards, they have been unable to even get a tourist visa. It is definitely not automatic. When these men have questioned the immigration authorities, they have been told that the government does not have to give you a reason why.
Mary L, your friends might consider enlisting the help of a lawyer. There is no reason why their wives should be denied visas and green cards if the proper procedures are followed and they can provide sufficient evidence that the marriage is not fraudulent, the husbands can support them financially, etc. I feel sorry for them, but they CAN succeed. Buena suerte.
Fareed, do you know what brand of spectacles Andrew Sullivan was wearing and is there anyway to find out. I found them really awesome looking. Thanks for all your help in tracking down the brand.
This supports one of my strongest arguments for immigration and more understanding about our illegal immigration problem. Most Americans have no idea how almost impossible it is to become a legal citizen in this country unless your parents are from here, or you have a large bank account. Comparing the process for a typical American like me to move to the UK and become a citizen against what it would take for a UK citizen to come here and become a citizen is a lesson in the quagmire that is our immigration policy. Read how impossible it is for yourself and see if it doesn't change your mind about our existing immigration policy and realize if we improved it we would also improve our illegal immigration problems. http://www.uscis.gov will enlighten you...
American immigration system is kind of wierd. A student or a guy on H1 can bring his partner very soon as dependent. However a permanent resident has to wait 4 years to bring wife/husband.. So many families are torn apart by this...
OMG I'm gonna cry...
naturally like your website but you have to take a look at the spelling on several of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling issues and I find it very bothersome to tell the reality on the other hand I'll definitely come again again.
The Global Public Square is where you can make sense of the world every day with insights and explanations from CNN's Fareed Zakaria, leading journalists at CNN, and other international thinkers. Join GPS editor Jason Miks and get informed about global issues, exposed to unique stories, and engaged with diverse and original perspectives.
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