LGBT Immigrants and Their Families:
Asylum and Family-Based Applications
In the United States, gay and lesbian Americans are not currently afforded the same rights and responsibilities under current immigration law as their heterosexual counterparts.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) forbids the federal government from conferring any benefits to same-sex couples. Under DOMA, persons in same-sex marriages are not considered married for immigration purposes. U.S. citizens and permanent residents in same-sex marriages cannot petition for their spouses, nor can they be accompanied by their spouses into the U.S. on the basis of a family or employment-based visa. Further, non-citizens in such marriages cannot use marriage as the basis for obtaining a waiver or relief from removal from the U.S.
Murad Immigration Law supports LGBT-inclusive language in any immigration bill going forward, such as the provision allowing citizens and lawful permanent residents to sponsor a same-sex partner for residency. Legislation to establish immigration equality, the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), has been introduced in the US Congress since 2000. UAFA would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act by permitting permanent partners of United States citizens and of lawful permanent residents to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the same manner as spouses of citizens and of lawful permanent residents and to penalize immigration fraud in connection with permanent partnerships.
UAFA was re-introduced on February 13, 2013, in the United States Senate by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and in the United States House of Representatives by New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). Obtaining spousal sponsorship rights for bi-national same-sex couples is important to any equitable immigration system.
We also support the steps President Obama has taken to address the needs and obstacles of LGBT immigrants, such as:
- Putting an end to separating families headed by same-sex couples. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) incorporated families headed by same-sex couples in its guidance on what it considers to be “low-priority” for investigation and deportation (so long as they are not a threat to public safety or national security).
- Facilitating humane and safe detention standards for gay and transgender immigrants. DHS released new standards aimed at strengthening the dignified treatment of gay and transgender detainees and decreasing sexual victimization of those detainees.
- Addressing the needs of gay and transgender refugees. DHS has implemented a training module that requires training for all asylum officers in appropriate terminology when interviewing gay and transgender refugees.
- Lifting the HIV travel ban. Finishing a process started by President Bush, President Obama issued rules that overturned the 22-year old ban on travel and immigration of HIV-positive individuals to the United States.
- Offering undocumented immigrants who were brought here as children a temporary reprieve from deportation. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals benefits aspiring youth meeting certain eligibility criteria. Many of the youth in this demographic identify as LGBT.
To learn more about how attorneys at Murad Immigration Law can help you with LGBT immigration matters, contact us today at 303-449-5535. We are ready to begin helping you immediately.