A woman participating in a recent prayer rally for immigration reform in Washington DC.

A woman participating in a recent prayer rally for immigration reform in Washington DC. (Photo/ Getty Images )

Op-ed: Immigrant scapegoating? Sadly, the LGBT community understands

Where does one begin with the recent news of a Heritage Foundation analyst, Jason Richwine, who wrote in a dissertation that Latino immigrants had lower IQs?

As a Latina immigrant who is also gay, I was tempted to call Mr. Richwine and dress him down in two languages, just to show my linguistic dexterity, but he has since resigned. Still, these ridiculous lower IQ claims are not the real issue here. Certainly the Heritage Foundation has distanced itself from them as quickly as possible.

The real issue is scapegoating and vilifying, which is something that immigrants have been facing for years. The 2012 campaign season turned up the heat and it became blame-an-immigrant-for-all-of-your-troubles. It is galling that any group of people could be so dehumanized, or be blamed for anything given that they are an integral part of the fabric of our society, contributing in a million ways to our culture and, yes, to our economy. But there you have it—somehow things get turned on their heads by people or groups looking to foment dislike against a group of people.

The LGBT community has also seen this before. At so many junctures in our movement, we have seen flawed “studies” and junk science claiming ridiculous things about our parenting skills, about our mental health—you name it and it’s been tried.

RELATED: Latinos incapable of assimilating like Irish, Sicilians” href=”http://nbclatino.com/2013/05/09/heritage-immigration-study-co-author-latinos-incapable-of-assimilating-like-irish-sicilians-did/”>Heritage immigration study co-author: Latinos incapable of assimilating like Irish, Sicilians

These ridiculous claims about Hispanic immigrants are a stark reminder of why the LGBT community and the immigrant rights community need to stick together.

The LGBT community is all too familiar with outlandish claims. Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, who works closely with the Heritage Foundation, has blamed gay people for many social ills and compared them to terrorists. He’s also claimed that a large influx of undocumented workers undermines the social fabric.

Fortunately our communities share far more than just a common enemy. Most importantly we share common values, like the belief in respecting everyone and the knowledge that we can only make a better society by including all people, of all ethnicities and orientations.

The LGBT and immigrant communities have and will continue to work in solidarity. Strategically, we win when we work together. We are allies because we care about each other’s issues and because many in our communities are both LGBT and and immigrants.

In Maryland, Oregon and other states, by working together we’ve achieved legal recognition for gay and lesbian families and in-state tuition for all immigrants. Both of these achievements have changed the lives of LGBT people — many of whom are also immigrants.

In the coming weeks, as decisions are made about the Comprehensive Immigration Reform package, let’s not forget that we are stronger when we work together to fight injustice. Let’s not forget that our opponents lose when we work together.

Some have tried to argue that the inclusion of same-sex binational couples in immigration reform would become a deal breaker that kills reform for everyone. This false LGBT ‘people versus immigrants’ frame is just another attempt to divide and conquer.

LGBT people want immigration reform for everyone — including LGBT people who are not in relationships and gay and lesbian bi-national couples. We also want reform for lots of people who are not LGB or T—namely our parents and abuelitas and tíos and friends.

And as Latinos, LGBT people, and immigrants, our communities are way too smart—too high of an IQ, shall we say?—to let anything get in the way of uniting to win reform for all.

RELATED: Heritage immigration study co-author: Hispanics will have low-IQ children and grandchildren

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