Twelve Senators Lead by Senator John Kerry Issue Letter to DHS and DOJ: Stop The Deportations and Stop Denials of Green Card Applications

Following on the heels of this week’s letter by Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) and similar recent statements by Representatives Nadler, Lofgren, Speier, Honda and Crowley, a group of twelve U.S. Senators lead by Massachusetts Senator John Kerry have written to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano urging executive branch action to achieve immigration equality for legally married same-sex couples who are currently discriminated against under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

“We applaud the President’s decision to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court,” the Senators wrote. “With DOMA as law, however, we are creating a tier of second-class families in states that have authorized same-sex marriage. The same second-class status is imposed upon marriages between same-sex partners in which one spouse is not a U.S. citizen. We urge you to reconsider this position in light of the administration’s position that it will no longer defend DOMA in federal court.”

In light of the Obama Administration’s decision to stop defending DOMA in federal court, the Senators urged:

* The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to hold marriage-based immigration petitions in abeyance pending a legislative repeal or a final determination on DOMA litigation.

* DHS to exercise prosecutorial discretion in commencing and prosecuting removal proceedings against married noncitizens that would be otherwise eligible to adjust their status to lawful permanent resident but for DOMA.

* The Department of Justice to institute a moratorium on orders of removal issued by the immigration courts to married foreign nationals who would be otherwise eligible to adjust their status to lawful permanent resident but for DOMA.

The full text of the letter is below:

April 6, 2011

Dear Mr. Attorney General and Madam Secretary:

We applaud the President’s decision to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in federal court. The law discriminates against a class of Americans, raising fundamental questions of over basic civil rights. However, the administration is still enforcing DOMA, because it is the law of the land.

Five states plus the District of Columbia, have granted same-sex couples the right to get married. With DOMA as law, however, we are creating a tier of second-class families in these states that have authorized same-sex marriage.

The same second-class status is imposed upon marriages between same-sex partners in which one spouse is not a U.S. citizen. The new administration policy has created confusion and uncertainty in the immigration context. In recent days, the administration issued conflicting statements about how it will consider immigration petitions from same-sex married couples seeking immigration benefits for a non-citizen spouse. As of March 30, 2011, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services clarified that marriage-based petitions will be considered under current law, with DOMA preventing recognition of otherwise-valid and lawful same-sex marriages.

We urge you to reconsider this position in light of the administration’s position that it will no longer defend DOMA in federal court. Specifically, we ask the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to hold marriage-based immigration petitions in abeyance pending a legislative repeal or a final determination on DOMA litigation. In addition, we ask DHS to exercise prosecutorial discretion in commencing and prosecuting removal proceedings against married noncitizens that would be otherwise eligible to adjust their status to lawful permanent resident but for DOMA. We also call upon the Department of Justice to institute a moratorium on orders of removal issued by the immigration courts to married foreign nationals who would be otherwise eligible to adjust their status to lawful permanent resident but for DOMA.

Preserving family unity is a fundamental American value and is also the cornerstone of our nation’s immigration law. Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

John Kerry, United States Senator
Patrick Leahy, United States Senator
Barbara Boxer, United States Senator
Ron Wyden, United States Senator
Christopher Coons, United States Senator
Jeff Merkley, United States Senator
Kirsten Gillibrand, United States Senator
Sherrod Brown, United States Senator
Daniel Akaka, United States Senator
Daniel Inouye, United States Senator
Sheldon Whitehouse, United States Senator
Frank Lautenberg, United States Senator

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  • Now is the time for all of us to call our Representatives to ask for their support. DOMA is unconstitutional and must be repealed now. UAFA still has a chance to pass if we keep the pressure and publicity up. Tell your friends and family to call and write, as every phone call and letter is vital to putting an end to this discriminatory policy. It’s a disgrace to the USA

    April 6, 2011
  • Bravo and well said, esteemed members of the United States Senate.

    April 6, 2011
  • This is awesome news! Let's support the senators and representatives by also adding our voices to the USCIS and Sec Napolitano! Sign the petition set up at change.org to send a message to them – http://www.change.org/petitions/dear-uscis-dont-go-back-to-denying-green-cards-to-loving-same-sex-couples#?opt_new=f&opt;_fb=t

    April 6, 2011

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This is a pro-bono project of the law firm of Masliah & Soloway, PC. Posts on this website are offered for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. The law firm of Masliah & Soloway, PC has offices in New York and Los Angeles. Our practice is limited to U.S. Immigration & Nationality Law.