Back to ‘business as usual’ for married binational same-sex couples

This week has been a rollercoaster for those binational families impacted by DOMA. Now comes news that the hold on immigration cases for married same-sex couples is officially over:

Immigration officials will no longer put a hold on the cases of binational, married gay couples, just two days after Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that such cases would be halted pending further legal guidance.

There was hope for a couple days. Now, it’s all about ending DOMA. The spokesman for the US Citizenship and Immigration Service actually said:

“It’s business as usual.”


Julia Preston, who covers immigration issues for The New York Times, had an article on the “confusion” over the policy on married, binational same-sex couples.

Here’s how it played out:

On Monday, Christopher S. Bentley, the chief spokesman for the immigration agency, confirmed in a statement that cases nationwide involving married gay couples had been suspended. What Mr. Bentley did not say was how long that hold might last and what issues the agency was seeking to clarify.

That was good news. But, then, the next day, it changed:

But on Tuesday, Mr. Bentley issued a new statement, saying that Citizenship and Immigration Services “has not implemented any change in policy and intends to follow the president’s directive to continue enforcing the law.”

Mr. Bentley said the agency’s field offices had suspended cases for a short period, perhaps a week or two, while lawyers clarified a “narrow legal issue” concerning the marriage act. He said the agency would probably resume action on same-sex marriage cases in coming days and would continue to deny immigration status to foreigners based on those marriages.

Denying immigration status could lead to dire consequences for same-sex couples:

“We have to be very cautious,” said Lavi S. Soloway, a lawyer who represents Mr. Velandia and Mr. Vandiver. He said gay couples should continue to understand that “if they file for immigration status, they may be putting themselves at considerable risk of deportation.”

So, it’s back to the risk of deportation and ripping families apart.

On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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