Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Thursday that she has ordered written guidance be issued that same-sex couples’ relationships be considered “family relationships.” The move is the most tangible proof yet that the Department is taking action urging field offices not to pursue deportation cases against a foreign same-sex partner of an American citizen who would be able to obtain a green card if in an opposite-sex relationship.
The news came in a letter from Napolitano to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday, where she stated that “the phrase ‘family relationships’ includes long-term, same-sex partners” for purposes of exercising prosecutorial discretion in immigration enforcement matters, nearly two months after a DHS spokesman told BuzzFeed that such a policy was in place.
The written guidance had been requested repeatedly by lawmakers.
From Napolitano’s letter: “In an effort to make clear the definition ofthe phrase “family relationships,” I have directed [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] to disseminate written guidance to the field that the interpretation of the phrase “family relationships” includes long-term, same-sex partners. As with every other factor identified in Director Morton’s June 11 memorandum, the applicability ofthe “family relationships” factor is weighed on an individualized basis in the consideration of whether prosecutorial discretion is appropriate in a given case.”
Because of the Defense of Marriage Act’s prohibition on the federal government recognizing same-sex couples’ marriages, such couples — when one is not a U.S. citizen — are not able to obtain a green card, which is readily available to opposite-sex couples.
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