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Bi-national same-sex couples may see deportations put on hold

Same-sex couples in South Carolina already face a number of challenges in their relationship. Besides the same issues that we all face in committed relationships, same-sex couples have the additional concerns associated with their legal rights and statuses. When it comes to their citizenship, illegal immigrants in long-term relationships with U.S. citizens have had to worry about deportation.

There are 29,000 same-sex couples in the country that are made up of one U.S. citizen and a non-U.S. citizen. Until recently, these bi-national couples have been at risk of being torn apart by the deportation of the non-U.S. citizen. However, a new plan by the Department of Homeland Security will address this issue.

The plan includes sending out a policy memo informing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices that a member of a long-term, same-sex couple should have a possible deportation on hold. The policy specifies that illegal immigrants who have family ties and are in a committed same-sex relationship should be considered low-priority cases for deportation.

The policy memo is a bold move in supporting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender bi-national couples who cannot be in federally-recognized marriage. Even though several states recognize same-sex marriages, a spouse in a same-sex marriage still cannot be sponsored for a green card under the terms of the Defense of Marriage Act.

However, based on the recommendation that these deportations be put on hold, it would seem as though there is increasing support for the citizenship rights of same-sex couples.

Dealing with the possibility that you or your spouse may be deported can be devastating for any couple. Instead of facing this difficult situation alone, couples will want to work with an attorney experienced in deportation defense in order to protect their family.

Source: WISTV, "Gay couples may get reprieve in deportation cases," Lisa Leff, Sept. 28, 2012

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