Following on New York’s legalization of gay marriage at the end of June came another encouraging development for same sex couples in the immigration sphere: changing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) priorities may delay or cancel deportations of immigrants married to U.S. citizens of the same sex, despite the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Before an ICE official recently decided to cancel the deportation proceedings of Henry Velandia of Venezuela, married to American citizen Josh Vandiver in Connecticut, an immigration judge in New Jersey, where the couple resides, had suspended the deportation pending legal developments that might provide immigration relief to members of same sex unions.
In another challenge to DOMA earlier in June, a California bankruptcy court ruled that the law was unconstitutional in response to efforts by a gay, married couple to file jointly for bankruptcy. (Read the decision here.) While defenders of DOMA argue that a serious constitutional challenge to the law cannot be mounted from bankruptcy court (nor, of course, from immigration court for that matter), these decisions underscore how practical realities like shared residences and shared finances are challenging discrimination against same sex couples. In the words of Bankruptcy Judge Thomas Donovan, “no legally married couple should be entitled to fewer bankruptcy rights than any other legally married couple.”