(New York, August 24, 2011) - Last week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would implement new procedures for assessing deportation and removal cases. The changes are designed to align immigration cases with federal immigration priorities, and are expected to result in the administrative closure of deportation and removal cases for immigrants with U.S. citizen spouses and children who pose no threat to national security or public safety. Lambda Legal is pleased that DHS will exercise this prosecutorial discretion because it may provide some immigration protection and relief for LGBT immigrants and their families.
Lambda Legal issued the following statement from Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, Lambda Legal Staff Attorney:
"Lambda Legal is pleased that Homeland Security will conduct case-by-case reviews of the nearly 300,000 current deportation and removal cases. Too many of these cases involve LGBT immigrants who have U.S. citizen spouses and children. The new procedures, which are LGBT-inclusive, should keep immigration officials from unnecessarily tearing apart bi-national same-sex couples, and provide an opportunity for LGBT immigrants to emphasize their ties to a U.S. citizen spouse in removal proceedings.
"This is a step in the right direction, but the new procedures do not change the legal landscape for most LGBT immigrants. Because of DOMA, bi-national same-sex couples are still unfairly denied the right, afforded to different-sex couples, to request immigration protection and relief for a foreign-born spouse. Next step: DOMA should be declared unconstitutional or repealed."
Lambda Legal is actively working on behalf of LGBT immigrants and their families. Last month, we filed an amicus brief on behalf of a bi-national same-sex couple to stop removal proceedings in Matter of Alcota. Recognizing that many LGBT and HIV-affected people are held in detention facilities while their immigration status is being determined, Lambda Legal is also fighting LGBT mistreatment and abuse in immigration detention facilities. In June, Lambda Legal submitted a letter, joined by civil rights groups, to Homeland Security complaining of gross LGBT mistreatment and abuse in immigration detention facilities.