HRC Blog

Members of Congress Urge Immigration Officials to Consider LGBT Family Ties in Deportation Cases

Today, 69 Members of Congress sent a letter to the heads of the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security urging further actions to stop the deportation of foreign born members of bi-national same-sex couples.  The letter was in response to recent efforts by the Obama Administration to begin prioritizing deportation cases based on series of factors outlined in a June 17, 2011 prosecutorial discretion memo released by the Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

According to the June 17, 2011 memo, a “person’s ties and contributions to the community, including family relationships” should be a factor in labeling certain deportations as low-priority deportations.  While LGBT families are not explicitly mentioned in the memo, DHS subsequently confirmed that “family relationships” include LGBT family relationships.  On August 18, 2011, the Administration announced they would be establishing a working group to review and prioritize deportation cases.  Low-priority cases – such as those of individuals with strong family relationship in the U.S. – would be closed; high-priority cases – such as those of criminals and terrorists – would receive prioritized attention.

The letter to DOJ and DHS asks that guidance for the working group include explicit acknowledgement that LGBT family relationships will be evaluated by the working group.  In addition, the letter asks that an individual with experience in working with LGBT immigrants and their families be included in the working group.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) were among those signing the letter.  Congressman Nadler is the sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), which allow U.S. citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their same-sex partners for family-based immigration.

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