Melanie Nathan- March 30, 2011.
The “hold” on same-sex married bi-national couples’ green card applications — celebrated by immigration and LGBT advocates — is over, according to the spokesman for the agency that processes those requests.
“The guidance we were awaiting … was received last night, so the hold is over, so we’re back to adjudicating cases as we always have,” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services press secretary Christopher S. Bentley told Metro Weekly this morning.
The agency will continue to “enforce the law,” he says, which means that the Defense of Marriage Act — which prohibits the government from recognizing same-sex marriages — prevents those green card applications from being approved.
In the past, they had been denied because of DOMA, but the administration’s Feb. 23 decision to stop defending Section 3 of DOMA raised hopes for some that the USCIS and other immigration agencies would at least put such cases on hold while the constitutionality of DOMA was resolved.
What we need is for President Obama to step in with an Executive Order, or Senator Feinstein to Introduce a similar to the Shirley Tan Private Bill, to cover all couples who are married and seeking same-sex greencards. The Senator never signed on to the UAFA – because of the lack of a contractual nexus between couples reflected in the Definition of Permananet Partners. However by her introduction of the repeal of DOMA, and one of the few who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in the first place, she ought to be approached for urgent help at this point. The mere introduction od a Private Bill reflecting a protected Class coule in effect HALT all such deportations, even on a Sunset basis.
Following up on reports from this weekend, Metro Weekly just received confirmation from Christopher Bentley, the spokesman for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, that cases of foreign partners who are married to a same-sex partner and would otherwise be eligible for a green card are on hold in light of questions about the continued validity of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Bentley writes, “USCIS has issued guidance to the field asking that related cases be held in abeyance while awaiting final guidance related to distinct legal issues.”
He notes, however, “USCIS has not implemented any change in policy and intends to follow the President’s directive to continue enforcing the law.”
[FOR A MORE DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THESE ISSUES, READ: "Policy Change, At Least Locally, Puts Bi-National Couples' Immigration Cases On Hold."]
The legal distinction means that although DOMA is still being enforced, the USCIS is using its discretion to hold off on denying green card applications where applicable.
As Lavi Soloway, a leading attorney pressing these cases told Metro Weekly earlier, “The best thing for the Department of Justice to be doing now is to be holding off on decisions. We’re arriving at a new day, and that means a lot of new opportunities.”
Saying, “It’s not exactly rocket science,” Soloway noted when speaking about these issues previously that the administration “has twice dealt in a very special way with groups of individuals facing deportation.”
It is time to attack at every level- binationals must step up the ante right now and NOT simply rely on the direction of the Failed strategy and sleep attitude of the like of Immigration Equality. It is time to look at your individual cases. I am suggesting a mass onslaught against the DOJ and ICE and DHS.
We need to ask the States that allow same-sex marriage to intervene on our behalf. We need to protest outside every Federal Building non stop – as legal as possible and those willing to indulge in civil disobedience should contact GETEQUAL. We need to fill out every form that a straight person can to get Status. We need to be loud and clear at whatever risk. Now is the time…. ALL the LGBT groups need to sue on \bhealf of couples; now is the time.
It is NOT business as usual.