Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has told the House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, that the term “family relationships” will also include long-term, same-sex partners. And moving forward, the US immigration officers will consider same-sex couples as family members, in deportation cases. This policy that would recognize lesbian and gay couples, was accepted and greeted by Pelosi and she also said that more new programs protecting undocumented immigrants must be designed.
Same-sex couples like Brian Willingham and Alfonso Garcia, have been fighting all these days for DOMA and to be considered related. Willingham said that they are happy about the new initiative of the Obama administration. This announcement is likely to benefit same-sex couples who are in deportation proceedings. Last year, the US immigration officials had told that they might consider same-sex partners as family relations, while enforcing immigration laws related to deportation.
However, this policy does not mean that US citizens who are married to same-sex partners who are foreign nationals, will be allowed to sponsor immigrant visas for their spouses. Secretary Napolitano said that the long-term relationship between a gay undocumented immigrant and a gay American would be considered while placing the undocumented immigrant in deportation proceedings. And hence, this new announcement stating that same-sex partners would be considered as family members, is considered to be beneficial to same-sex partners.
Human rights groups and many others are happy about this announcement and they say that the government has recognized the relationship between a gay undocumented immigrant and a gay American. A report from the Williams Institute, states that there were around 29,000 same-sex couples, as of 2010. And most of those couples comprised of a US citizen and a foreign national.
Though the Obama administration will stick to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, that bars the government from considering same-sex marriages and which denies federal benefits to same-sex couples, relationship between same-sex couples will be recognized while reviewing deportation cases.