Speculation that the Obama administration’s February announcement that it would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court would change how same-sex married couple’s applications for green cards and visa applications are reviewed — making the process no different from heterosexual married couples — ended Wednesday after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ordered the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to end a hold on the cases of binational married gay couples, reports the Advocate.
On Monday, CIS had issued the hold pending “legal guidance” as authorities reviewed its policy in light of the administration’s new position on DOMA.
Legal advocates, who have increasingly argued that green card applications and deportation proceedings of married gay couples should be put on hold pending resolution of the Defense of Marriage Act’s constitutionality, had celebrated recent statements from immigration officials as a promising step toward bringing parity to the system for LGBT individuals.
[CIS press secretary Christopher S.] Bentley said that as a result of the legal guidance from DHS, district offices do not have the authority to put a hold on all such cases. Immigration cases will continue to be handled on a case-by-case basis. “It’s business as usual,” Bentley said.
“While these applications cannot be approved today, none of them should be denied. We must continue to advocate strenuously for an abeyance policy and for a moratorium on the deportation of spouses of gay and lesbian Americans,” immigration attorney Lavi Soloway told The Advocate in a statement. ”It is clear that the administration has the discretion to halt deportations and put processing of “green card” cases on hold temporarily while work continues to repeal DOMA. This administration should work immediately to develop remedies to ensure that binational couples are not torn apart because of a law that the President and the Attorney General have determined is unconstitutional.”