The recent change in deportation policy has affected many immigrants to the country. Now, with the many kinds of immigrants, thousands of same-sex married couples have the hope of staying in the United States.
The new policy has expanded the definition of what a family is, which includes same sex couples. Now, after being married in the country, same sex couples can be considered as a spouse of a US citizen. An immigrant spouse can apply for a green hard.
The change of the policy affected one of the most dreaded laws affecting same-sex couples. The Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA does not recognize same sex marriages at the federal government level. Thus, the problem for same sex marriages is that despite being married and recognized locally, such rite is not recognized by the federal government.
The new policy as instituted by the Department of Homeland Security would mean review of all deportation proceedings focusing on criminal offenders. Less focus would be given on individuals without criminal offenses, came to the country legally, with strong family and community ties. Special mention would be given to those immigrants who are primary caretakers of a US citizen. These would include gay and lesbian married couples.
According to a spokesperson for Immigration Equality, Steve Rawls, “There’s no doubt that the announcement by DHS last week that they were including gay and lesbian families among the families that they intend to help is a step in the right direction.” The current administration considers the DOMA law as unconstitutional but remains the law.
On another end, DOMA deportations have been effectively curtailed. The deportation proceedings against a Venezuelan man who overstayed his visa and married an American in Connecticut.
Critics of the new policy, such as Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform said, “Congress has written the immigration laws of this country. It’s the responsibility of the executive branch to carry them out, whether they happen to agree with them or not.” He added that the objection is not about the sexual orientation of the people being deported, but about the legality of these individuals remaining in the country.