Department Of Justice’s Immigration Office Operating In A Post-DOMA World

The Department of Justice’s Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has been laying the groundwork for granting marriage-based green cards to binational queer couples, should the Supreme Court declare the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, reports Metro Weekly’s Chris Geidner.

Four cases currently under review—all involving same-sex pairs married in states or provinces where marriage equality exists—have been delayed, with a directive to investigate whether the couples in question would be eligible for residency save for DOMA.

Attorney Lavi Soloway, who represents all four couples, tells Geidner the tactic is “historic” and indicates the DOJ is working on the principle that “there may very well be, a year from now, a post-DOMA world.”

The decisions by the BIA in four cases reviewed by Metro Weekly, three of which involve visa requests and one of which involves a request to reopen an immigration case in removal proceedings, require similar follow-up action and use almost identical language despite appearing to have been signed by three different BIA members on behalf of the board.

More than a year ago, on May 5, 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder intervened in a BIA case, vacating a decision by the BIA related to the application of Paul Wilson Dorman in which the BIA had applied Section 3 of DOMA to his case to deny his petition. Dornan was in a civil union with his partner, and Holder, among other questions, had asked the BIA to resolve “whether [Dorman]’s same-sex partnership or civil union qualifies him to be considered a ‘spouse’ under New Jersey law” and “whether, absent the requirements of DOMA, respondent’s same-sex partnership or civil union would qualify him to be considered a ‘spouse’ under the Immigration and Nationality Act.”

In the four cases reviewed by Metro Weekly, all of which are being litigated by Masliah & Soloway, PC, the BIA appears to have taken Holder’s questions, begun applying them to all cases appealed to the board that involve DOMA-based denials and gone a step further to confirm whether the marriages themselves are valid.

As Soloway, founder of Stop the Deportations, explains it, the Board is requiring immigration services to go through extra steps to verify these couple’s marriages even though, under current DOMA law, they could deny the requests out of hand because they come from same-sex couples.  “They’re providing everything that one would need to know to approve those petitions if the Defense of Marriage Act did not exist,” he says, “and that’s not typically the role of the Board of Immigration Appeals.”

Thanks guys—We’re not used to government bureaus going the extra mile on our behalf. You ever been to the DMV?

 Photo: Stop the Deportations


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  • Hyhybt

    Turn over the House of Representatives and we won’t *need* the courts to do away with DOMA.

  • Where Were the Democrats in 2009-2010

    The Dems could have easily done away with both DOMA and DADT, and passed ENDA beginning in 2009 thru 2010 after winning huge majorities in the House and in the Senate, plus having a Democrat in the White House. Nice to put things off when they don’t a snowball’s chance in hell of passing in the current Congress.

    Democrats=apathetic assholes

  • Mack

    Well although I disagree with that i;d rather have apathetic assholes than Nazis. But when people say Dems could have done this and done that do they not remember that Republicans filibuster EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING! Getting judges confirmed is like pulling teeth.

  • Hyhybt

    @Where Were the Democrats in 2009-2010: Also, consider that the shift in opinion of the last couple of years has both included politicians as well as the general public *and* given room for politicians already wanting to be on our side to act like it without fear of losing their jobs.

    Basically, there are far fewer Democrats against RFMA and ENDA and more in favor of them (for whatever reason) than there were just a few years ago. Plus they got bogged down with that whole health care thing… they’re not as well organized, cohesive, and all-around *effective* as the Republicans, but then, effective isn’t a positive characteristic when you’re working for evil :)

  • jason

    What have the Democrats done to end DOMA and enact ENDA? Nothing, that’s what. Obama has the power of executive order but has failed to use it even once in relation to gay rights. He’s a total fraud when it comes to gay advocacy.

    He loves our money so much, he can’t afford to make us feel satisfied.

  • Aaron Ashcraft

    Call the Republicans Nazis if you want, but it was LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS that ended DADT NOT DEMOCRATS!!!! DADT was struck down by the courts ONLY BECAUSE LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS filed a lawsuit. I happen to KNOW THIS because a close friend is on the Board of Log Cabin. The decision to file the lawsuit was made in his Laguna Beach, CA house!

    Dems have done NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING for gay rights even though they had a majority in both houses for two years. Dems are assholes and take credit for what others do to help gay rights.

  • Spike

    @jason: You are like a 8 track tape with these posts. When Willard Romney sends us to the camps, I have little doubt that you will be pushed to the front of the line when it comes to be sent to the ‘showers.’

Comments are closed.