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Potential immigration law changes for LGBT community

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District of Columbia immigrants who are members of the LGBT community saw some comfort this month in light of some potential changes to immigration legislation. No specific rules pertaining to immigration law as it affects the LGBT community have yet been established, which makes many same-sex binational couples very vulnerable. A new federal working group responsible for deportation reviews has recently added an LGBT liaison to the team who will be responsible for overseeing cases that involve gay binational couples.

The interagency group currently consists of key Department of Homeland Security Officials, and Philip A. McNamara has recently been added as the LGBT liaison. With currently over 300,000 potential deportation cases on the docket for review, officials in the District of Columbia expressed the need for an LGBT liaison that could better identify with the needs within this specific community. The addition of this liaison follows requests by immigration law advocates that wanted to ensure the discretionary guidelines for deportation included gay binational couples who previously had been denied equal citizenship rights under the Defense of Marriage Act.

As the LGBT immigrant community has historically been stigmatized, review of the deportation process was necessary according to many officials in Washington. A group of Democratic House members plead on behalf of the LGBT immigrant community that further guidance specific to the needs of LGBT nationals be provided, as no such written instruction exists as to how to best deal with LGBT issues when it comes time to review deportation cases. The best way to begin this progress, officials felt, was the inclusion of an LGBT community member onto the policy making team.

While no immigration law on LGBT and deportation review issues has yet been implemented, there is a distinct possibility that at the very least written guidance for Immigration and Custom Enforcement may be in the works. Like many deportation cases, "ties and contributions to the community" will be considered on a case by case basis should an LGBT binational or immigrant status become a question under deportation review. A New York congressman is expected to be discussing the issue of written guidance on this matter with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in the very near future. An LGBT liaison working directly within this Department of Homeland Security group will be greatly beneficial in this regard.

Source: The Advocate News, "Deportation Working Group Review Includes an LGBT Liaison," Andrew Harmon, Nov. 7, 2011

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