DOJ and DHS will recognize LGBT families when making deportation decisions

Yesterday, the US Departments of Justice and Homeland Security
announced that they will implement administrative changes that will
enable immigration enforcement officials to focus on the “highest
priorities” and eliminate the “lowest priority cases.”

What these changes in DHS policy mean for LGBT

The Department of Homeland Security has limited resources and
must prioritize the 300,000 deportation cases currently before it
for review.  The new policy will have a favorable impact on
same-sex bi-national couples because any proceedings to remove the
non-citizen partner would be considered “low priority.” When
asked by a reporter about the impact of DHS’s decision on the
LGBT community, a senior administration
official said
, “The prosecutorial discretion memo provides
for the use of discretion for people with strong community ties,
with community contributions and with family relationships. We
consider LGBT families to be families in this context.”

Acknowledging LGBT families in this way provides same-sex
bi-national couples – 46% of whom are raising children in the
U.S. – with some relief from potential removal proceedings. DHS
will now consider a person’s relationship to their same-sex
partner and children and other family ties when determining
priority in removal proceedings. Family Equality Council applauds
Secretary Napolitano’s leadership in this groundbreaking policy
decision, which will help countless families who rely on an
immigrant partner or parent for their well-being.

While this new development will surely help many bi-national
families who still live in fear of being torn apart every single
day,  the only permanent and surefire way to protect LGBT
bi-national families is to pass the Uniting
American Families Act
, the federal bill that would allow
American citizens and legal permanent residents to sponsor
their same-sex partners for immigration.