The Department of Homeland Security will avoid deporting foreign same-sex spouses of Americans, an Administration spokesman told BuzzFeed Wednesday, under a policy to consider same-sex marriages a reason not to start deportation proceedings.
The statement — which comes in response to pressure from House Democrats and advocates — makes explicit that the Obama Administration will consider same-sex marriages a reason not to start deportation proceedings.
"[W]hen exercising prosecutorial discretion in enforcement matters, DHS looks at the totality of the circumstances presented in individual cases, including whether an individual has close family ties to the United States as demonstrated by his or her same-sex marriage or other longstanding relationship to a United States citizen," Peter Boogaard told BuzzFeed Monday.
Although a man and woman who marry when one spouse is American and one is not are able to get a green card for the foreign partner, the Defense of Marriage Act prevents the federal government from issuing green cards to same-sex couples. Advocates, however, have been pressing the Obama administration to put green-card applications by gay couples on hold — or to at least halt deportation proceedings for same-sex foreign partners who would otherwise be eligible for a green card — while DOMA is challenged in the courts.
Marriages or other "longstanding relationships" between an American citizen and foreign individual do constitute the type of "close family ties" that would lead the department to consider an immigration case a "low priority" that it would not pursue in its exercise of prosecutorial discretion, Boogaard explained.
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