The short-lived hold on same-sex married binational partner deportations has been ended by the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) division of Homeland Security. Since late last week, USCIS had placed a temporary hold on cases involving binational same-sex married couples in which one partner is at risk of deportation, if their marriage were legally recognized in the United States had they not been a same-sex married couple. USCIS said they were “awaiting guidance,” but many affected, including their legal representatives, believed the hold would be more long-term, especially after Newsweek called the hold a “Gamechanger,” and some organizations suggested same-sex married binational partners should apply for green cards.
DOMA currently bans the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages but there are two bills in Congress right now that would repeal DOMA, which has been determined to be unconstitutional by two federal judges.
But as Chris Geidner at Metroweekly reported last night, DHS suggested the hold could end “within a week.” Moments ago Geidner reported, “The guidance we were awaiting … was received last night, so the hold is over, so we’re back to adjudicating cases as we always have,” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services press secretary Christopher S. Bentley told Metro Weekly this morning.”
In perhaps a nod to anti-gay right-wing extremists who have claimed the Obama administration was abdicating its duty to enforce DOMA, the Defense f Marriage Act, Bentley added USCIS will continue to “enforce the law.”
In “Confusion Over Policy on Married Gay Immigrants,” The New York Times yesterday reported the announcement of the hold had “led to a surge of expectations among gay advocates that the Obama administration had taken a small but significant step toward recognizing same-sex marriage.
“But on Tuesday, immigration officials moved swiftly to clarify their position and dampen those hopes, saying they have not made any policy changes that would provide an opening to gay couples.”
“Describing Mr. Bentley’s statement as “a darn big deal,” Rachel B. Tiven, the executive director of Immigration Equality, called it “the first domino to fall” for gay American citizens with foreign spouses.
“Ms. Tiven said she understood that immigrants in married gay couples could now apply for green cards and instead of being automatically denied, their cases would be suspended until the courts decided the validity of the marriage act.”
Sadly, they were wrong.
Conservative writer and pundit Andrew Sullivan, who could in many ways be the poster boy for this issue, had announced he is “crushed,” and adds “the US government regards gay Americans as sub-human in their needs and wants and rights. Their loves and relationships mean nothing under the law…”
“Aaron and I are total strangers to one another in the eyes of federal law. And because we are legally married, I am paradoxically more vulnerable to being deported than I would be if I were single – because it’s plain that I intend to reside in the US indefinitely, even though my visa has an expiration date. So I’m a risk – hence my huge anxiety if I ever leave the country. I am lucky to be able to apply for a Green Card on my own merits, under the rubric of what’s called extraordinary ability in my field (it’s still in process). But most people are not so lucky. They just fall in love. Only to have their own government rip their marriage apart, or force the American into exile.
“If this isn’t wrong, what is?”
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.