Gay Rights in America: Immigration

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that she plans to instruct immigration agents to consider same-sex couples as heterosexual married couples in deportation appeals and matters. Many felt a great sense of hope over Napolitano’s announcement, but it doesn’t yet guarantee anything. A real change in the way laws are structured for same-sex couples is still only a possibility. Earlier this year, Obama said he approved of legalizing same-sex marriage.

Thousands of same-sex couples are liable to get separated if one of the partners is undocumented and put in deportation process. No matter how long he or she has been with a partner, the DHS does not grant any sort of pardon. Same-sex couples consider this to be unfair because as the law stands today, the Defense of Marriage Act is the ruling document over any appeals.

The Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA, was passed in 1996 and signed by President Bill Clinton. Even though some places recognize a same-sex marriage—Connecticut, Washington D.C., Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont—DOMA says that same-sex marriage is not recognized at a federal level. Since immigration is an issue handled by the U.S. government, even if a couple is legally married in New York, deportation still threatens to separate them if one of them is undocumented.

Deferred Action could be the answer for those who are under the age of the 31 and came to the country before the age of 16. Take our free eligibility quiz today and find out if you qualify.

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