The Department of Homeland Security has extended prosecutorial discretion guidelines issued in 2011 to protect families from being separated by deportations in low-priority cases to same-sex couples.
LGBT couples will be considered families if they meet three criteria outlined by the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, following instructions from DHS Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Notably, same-sex marriage is not one of the criteria.
Same-sex relationships that rise to the level of “family relationships” are long-term, same-sex relationships in which the individuals
• are each other’s sole domestic partner and intend to remain so indefinitely;
• are not in a marital or other domestic relationship with anyone else; and typically maintain a common residence
• and share financial obligations and assets.
“For the first time ever, the federal government has put in writing a policy to protect gay and lesbian couples who are threatened with deportation by explicitly including same-sex couples in the definition of “family relationships,” putting it beyond doubt that gay and lesbian couples are eligible for favorable acts of discretion when subject to removal.
Since the summer of 2010, a group of determined gay and lesbian binational couples have organized and fought for this policy as a central part of our “Stop the Deportations, Separations and Exile” campaign. This is a tremendous moment for our community, and an especially important illustration of how those affected by our nation’s discriminatory immigration laws have, through their own acts of courage, made a change possible. This is trickle-up, grass roots activism at its best.”
Soloway also told the Blade that this guidance is “evidence that the Obama administration is able to develop innovative, interim remedies” to help LGBT families.