Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why I Don't Like Obama's New Deportation Rules - And Their Effect On Bi-National Couples

As reported widely on LGBT websites around the world, the Obama administrations recent decision to review all deportation cases currently working its way through immigration courts has the potential to benefit gay and lesbian bi-national couples. As reported by the Washington Blade
Those who have been convicted of crimes or pose a security risk will be a higher priority for deportation, while those who are deemed lower priority will be taken out of the pipeline.
 Administration officials will weigh a person’s ties and contributions to the community and family relationships. During an on background conference call with media outlets on Thursday, a senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said these criteria are inclusive of LGBT families and same-sex couples.

“The prosecutorial discretion memo provides for the use of discretion for people with strong community ties, with community contributions and with family relationships,” the official said. “We consider LGBT families to be families in this context.”
Though this could be perceived as a good development for all who are in same-sex bi-national  relationships, as one who is in a bi-national relationship myself, I find that this new policy by the Obama administration does two things - neither of which are positive. 

First, it effectively says that deportations involving gay and lesbian bi-national relationships are equal to all deportation cases currently being reviewed by the Department of Homeland Security. This does not do justice in showing the unique discrimination and unequal status that same-sex bi-national couples are facing. Instead of addressing the fact that gay and lesbian Americans are not allowed to sponsor their foreign spouses because of a patently unconstitutional law (DOMA), these couples are lumped with everyone who has or is going through deportation proceedings. Our community, as much as anyone else, realizes the power of words, and when the Right is attacking this new policy on deportations as amnesty for "illegals", same-sex couples who want to obey the law through spousal sponsorship, yet are rejected from doing so, are unfairly lumped into this definition. Thus by not addressing the issue of gay and lesbian immigration discrimination directly, the Obama Administrations move not only devalues the specific injustice and unequal treatment that we receive, but it also forces us into the undesirable corner of being termed something that we are not.  

Second, in effectively putting a halt to deportations, Obama has only reached the 50 yard line for same-sex bi-national couples. Yes, not having the constant threat of being deported will release much strain on gay and lesbian couples in the U.S., but at the same time, what does this really give us? Are we allowed to now apply for a green card? Are committed same-sex couples who are married given the same rights as heterosexual married couples in immigration law? Are American citizens now allowed to sponsor their foreign born spouse? Of course not!!  

This lack of actual solution by the Obama Administration is like giving a dying man in the desert food, but no water. It allows same-sex couples to keep going through their daily lives just existing, but does not allow them to flourish. It reinforces that our relationships are not as valuable or meaningful as heterosexual ones.  And this, my friends, is why I do NOT applaud the new deportation regulations. 

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