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Popular Topics in Social Sciences
Stonewall Riots Stonewall Riots
The confrontations between police and demonstrators at the Stonewall Inn in New York City the weekend of June 27-29, 1969 mark the beginning of the modern glbtq movement for equal rights.
 
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Anthony, Susan B. Anthony, Susan B.
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Africa: Sub-Saharan, Pre-Independence
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Topics In the News
 
Secretary Napolitano Confirms Immigration Policy
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 09/29/12
Last updated on: 09/29/12
 
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Janet Napolitano.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on September 26, 2012 that she will issue written instructions to immigration agents that they must consider same-sex relationships the same as heterosexual ones in determining whether an individual should be deported.

Secretary Napolitano's statement comes in response to a request from more than 80 Democratic members of the House of Representatives, including House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, that the Department of Homeland Security mention specifically the plight of same-sex couples in its guidelines for the enforcement of immigration policies.

Although the administration had previously announced that same-sex relationships will be taken into account when making deportation decisions, Secretary Napolitano's announcement that field officers will be given written instructions to that effect is considered to be a significant development.

"This is a huge step forward," Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality, said in a statement. "Until now, LGBT families and their lawyers had nothing to rely on but an oral promise that prosecutorial discretion would include all families. Today, DHS has responded to Congress and made that promise real."

In 2011, DHS instructed agents to consider a variety of factors--including family relationships, the age an individual came to the U.S., and other ties to the country--when determining whether the immigrant is high-priority for deportation, but until now the instructions did not clarify in writing that same-sex relationships should be considered equivalent to heterosexual relationships.

As Julia Preston pointed out in the New York Times, under current policy foreign partners of U.S. citizens are considered family members under the prosecutorial discretion policy. Under that policy, Obama administration officials say they are focusing enforcement resources on deporting convicts and foreigners who pose threats to national security.

"This written guidance will simply reiterate existing policy," said Peter Boogaard, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security.

Under prosecutorial discretion, thousands of deportation cases have been closed, including many involving bi-national gay and lesbian couples. This policy allows the immigrants to remain in the United States indefinitely, but does not grant any legal status.

Secretary Napolitano's clarification does not affect the ability of immigrants in same-sex marriages with American citizens to obtain permanent resident visas, known as green cards. Under current law, gay Americans, whether married or not, cannot sponsor immigrant spouses or partners for residency in the United States.

In the video below, Thomas Roberts reports on the case of a bi-national gay couple that benefited from the Obama Administration's change of policy regarding the use of prosecutorial discretion.

 
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