One of the worst consequences of the federal government’s policy regarding the recognition of same-sex couples (due to the Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA), is that married, gay binational couples (this is where one of the partners is not from the US) are not eligible to apply for permanent residency in the country, something their heterosexual counterparts can. This results in the deportation and splitting apart of families and legally married spouses. In my opinion, this is one of the cruelest policies that a government can have.
When a federal judge in Massachusetts cast doubt in July of last year regarding the constitutionality of the government’s policy on DOMA, a wave of litigation followed, including the Obama Administration’s announcement that it would cease from defending the law in court due to its perceived unconstitutionality and discriminatory policies.
After several requests from immigration lawyer, Lavi Soloway, to put a hold on the deportations of same-sex binational couples until the doubts regarding DOMA were cleared up in court, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS announced on Monday (3/28) that it would comply with the request and put green card applications on hold and no longer deport legally married couples. According to the Metro Weekly, “Christopher Bentley, the spokesman for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, [says] that cases of foreign partners who are married to a same-sex partner and would otherwise be eligible for a green card are on hold in light of questions about the continued validity of the Defense of Marriage Act.”
Marriage advocates and same-sex couples celebrated, knowing that their futures together were no longer in immediate danger, but the celebration didn’t last long. Just two days after the announcement, the USCIS went back on their word and said that they received legal advice from the Department of Homeland Security and would no longer enforce the hold on these deportation proceedings. “Wednesday morning USCIS press secretary Christopher S. Bentley told The Advocate that the agency had received legal guidance to lift the hold it had issued Monday. The guidance was issued in the form of written communications from the Office of the General Counsel at Department of Homeland Security (USCIS is a component of DHS).”
“Bentley said that as a result of the legal guidance from DHS, district offices do not have the authority to put a hold on all such cases [...]. “It’s business as usual,” Bentley said.”
But there is hope. Lavi Soloway told The Advocate in a statement. "While these applications cannot be approved today, none of them should be denied [...]. It is clear that the administration has the discretion to halt deportations and put processing of "green card" cases on hold temporarily while work continues to repeal DOMA. This administration should work immediately to develop remedies to ensure that binational couples are not torn apart because of a law that the President and the Attorney General have determined is unconstitutional."
Please sign a petition asking the Administration to follow Soloway’s advice and sign an executive order immediately putting a hold on deportations for the time being: