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Same Sex Marriage (DOMA) and Its Effect on Immigration

June 2013 will always be remembered as a momentous period for in the judicial and legislative history of the United States. This month saw the passing of the comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill as well as the invalidation of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The passing of CIR and the death of DOMA have significant implications for immigrants living in the U.S. Implementation of CIR is expected to take several months and DOMA is bound to be subject to numerous legal challenges, but immigrants must remember that at the heart of the legislation and the Supreme Court decisions there are various protections to their rights.

There is an implied synergy between CIR and DOMA that came to play in the days after their respective announcement. Case in point: A deportation proceeding of a Colombian man was halted by an immigration judge in New York less than an hour after the Supreme Court’s decision on DOMA. The immigrant is married to a U.S. citizen who petitioned for his spouse’s adjustment of status.

In the above-mentioned case, the couple was legally married in the State of New York. Immigration authorities, however, relied on the federal provisions of DOMA to reject the application and issue a deportation order. Once DOMA was ruled unconstitutional by the country’s highest court, the Colombian man’s attorney simply moved to lift the deportation order.

Immigration attorneys now have two major legal aspects to consider with regard to the status of their clients:

    1. Under CIR, immigrants face fewer obstacles in their pursuit of work permits and residency. Deportation orders will be less arbitrary than they have been until now, and immigration officials must come up with ways to streamline the adjustment of status process.
    2. Under the elimination of DOMA, same-sex couples do not have to worry about their marriages not being considered lawful by immigration authorities. According to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, all federal agencies are currently busy implementing the historical Supreme Court decision so that the rights of immigrants in same-sex civil unions are respected.

If you have any other questions relating to DOMA or immigration, please do not hesitate to contact Kazmi and Sakata Immigration Law in San Diego. We represent clients both nationally and internationally and are available to provide assistance and advice on a variety of immigration related matters. Call us at 858-874-0711 for more information or to schedule a free consultation.

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