The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service confirmed Monday that it has temporarily put some deportations of partners in same-sex marriages on hold if they could be affected by the recent Department of Justice decision to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act.
Chris Bentley, Press Secretary for the USCIS said in a statement: “USCIS has issued guidance to the field asking that related cases be held in abeyance while awaiting final guidance related to distinct legal issues.”
DOMA forbids the government from recognizing and granting the same rights to same-sex couples, so foreign-born partners in same-sex marriages who would otherwise be eligible for green cards frequently get deported.
The DOJ announced last month that part of DOMA is unconstitutional and it would no longer defend it in court.
Mike Giglio of Newsweek/The Daily Beast first reported on the shift last week after at least two USCIS districts, Baltimore and D.C., told the advocacy group American Immigration Lawyers Association that they’re going to put those immigration cases on hold.
Fred Sainz, the Vice President of Communications for the Human Rights Campaign on bi-national couples told TPM in a statement:
This is enormously positive step forward for loving families who stand to be separated. The CIS has rightly determined that there’s no reason for it to enforce a law that the president, attorney general and a federal court believe to be unconstitutional. It’s entirely appropriate that enforcement of this unjust law be put into abeyance pending a final determination by the U.S. Supreme Court at a later date.
Republican lawmakers like House Majority Leader John Boehner have said the House will intervene to defend DOMA, so the implications for immigration are still murky until the DOMA fight plays out.
h/t Chris Geidner of the Metro Weekly.
Additional reporting by Ryan Reilly.