Gay Couples May Get Reprieve In Deportation Cases
By Lisa Leff
Originally printed 10/4/2012 (Issue 2040 - Between The Lines News)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -
The Department of Homeland Security is planning to issue a policy memo stating that illegal immigrants with American same-sex partners are eligible to have their deportations put on hold under a federal program designed to focus resources away from low-priority cases.
The move had been sought by gay rights activists and their allies in Congress before Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced plans for the policy Thursday in a letter to 84 Democratic lawmakers.
"It will mark the very first time that lesbian and gay couples have been recognized within immigration policy for relief," said Steve Ralls, the spokesman for Immigration Equality, an advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender immigrants.
The Democratic lawmakers addressed in Napolitano's letter pressed the agency to inform Immigration and Customs Enforcement field offices that bi-national gay couples in long-term relationships have family ties that should be considered as grounds for deferring a foreign citizen's removal from the U.S.
"I have directed ICE to disseminate written guidance to the field that the interpretation of the phrase `family relationships' includes long-term, same-sex partners," Napolitano wrote, adding that the decision to grant reprieves still would be considered on a case-by-case basis.
The instructions do not mean that foreigners who are married to Americans of the same sex will be eligible for green cards or citizenship, as are immigrants with opposite sex spouses. The Obama administration is continuing to enforce a 1996 law that prohibits the government from recognizing same-sex marriages, even as it opposes it in court and takes gay relationships into account when evaluating deportation cases.
The Williams Institute, a think tank, estimates that as of 2010 there were about 29,000 same-sex couples nationwide comprised of a U.S citizen and a citizen of another country.
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington group that advocates tighter immigration policies, said that even though the administration says it is complying with the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act by not allowing citizens to sponsor same-sex spouses for green cards, the pending guidance for ICE officials to review the family ties of same-sex couples suggests otherwise.
"It's a camel's nose under the tent," Krikorian said. "If you get same-sex couples approved in terms of immigration, you can use that as an incremental approach to getting changes in other areas, such as in tax policy."
The policy guidance expected to go out next week will reference a memo ICE Director John Morton issued last year advising the agency's officers and lawyers to review pending deportation cases to determine which ones should be top priority and which ones might be shelved, Napolitano said.
Government attorneys weigh factors such as a person's criminal record, family ties and community relations in making their decisions.
ICE officials said at the time that long-term same-sex relationships could be included under the family ties criteria, but advocates and House Democrats led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wanted that determination put into writing.
- Will U.S. Supreme Court Resolve Marriage Debate?
- Mississippi Judge Overturns Same-Sex Marriage Ban
- Study Suggests Genetic Link For Male Homosexuality
- Shelter in Kansas City Won't House Gay Couples
- Gay Marriage Issue Now Linked To Ohio Senator
- Another Top Ohio Republican Speaks On Gay Marriage
- Pope Reinforces Traditional Family Values
- Election 2014: LGBT Candidates Make Some History Across U.S.
- Republican Sweep Captures Senate And Some Pro-Gay Governors
- LGBT Veterans Still Denied Equal Federal Benefits
- GLSEN Releases New National School Climate Survey On America's Middle And High Schools
- NCAVP 2013 Intimate Partner Violence Report
- Transgender Michigan Teen Shares Story On National Stage
- CEO Of Apple Tim Cook: 'I'm Proud To Be Gay'
- Guide To Elections Across the U.S.
- 5th Circuit Court Sets Date To Hear SSM Cases
- Federal Gov. To Recognize Same-Sex Married Couples In Six More States
- Hook-Up Related Homicide In Pennsylvania
- Bishops Scrap Welcome To Gays In Sign Of Split
- Federal Judge Strikes Down Arizona Same-Sex Marriage Ban
- Michigan Antique Festival
- Campus; Student and Alumni Groups
- MSU GLBT Alumni Association
- OutLoud Chorus LGBT Mixed Chorus
- Deck Builders
- Cedar Works
- Event Planners
- BSA Events & Entertainment
- Top Of The Lamp
- National Organizations
- National Black Justice Coalition
- Crown Pharmacy
- Social/Community Organizations
- Windsor Pride Community
- Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion
Enter contests to win great prizes like CDs, DVDs, concert tickets and more
- Q&A: Andy Cohen On His (Almost) Tell-All Book, 'Nasty' Names Gays Call Him
- Divine Intervention: Bette Midler Talks Early Gay Support, 'Diva' Degradation & Twerking ('Girls, Please!')
- Q&A: Melissa Etheridge On Letting Go, Moving On & The Song 'I Didn't Wanna Do'
- Pastors Challenge Civil Rights For Michigan Gays
- Republican State House Candidate Has History Of Scandal
Sign up to receive our weekly newsletters today!
Stigma: a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality or person. Hearing the words "I'm HIV-positive" made Bryan (names and some details have been changed) freeze.View More World AIDS Day
This Week's Issue
Download or view this week's print issue today!
Sign up to receive our weekly newsletters today!