I wrote earlier this week that immigration activists are taking the same approach as gay rights activists in making a state-by-state push for the Dream Act. The concerns of both these groups dovetailed yesterday in an announcement by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services that gay couples who are married cannot apply for permanent residency for their partners, unlike heterosexual couples, The New York Times reports.
The decision by the Obama administration not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act has created a gray area for these couples, who risk deportation should they file for green cards for their spouses. Earlier this week, the NYT reports, Citizenship and Immigration Services suspended looking at these cases while they tried to clarify the legal policy. It sent a wave of hope among the gay-rights community that ended up being false.
Andrew Sullivan in describing current immigration laws around heterosexual marriage writes:
The US recognizes the marital and familial bond as the most sacred factor in deciding immigration questions. Why? Because it is understood that the right to marry whomever one chooses is an elemental human right, and that a government that insists on breaking up such marriages, or forcing those in them to leave their own country, is violating basic human rights.
The political roadblocks around immigration have an impact that touches the lives of many Americans -- gay marriage being a great example. There's a push and a desire for change among the public in bringing these issues to light, and the federal government cannot continue to pussyfoot around the issue. Lives are being affected whether its an 18-year-old undocumented kid that wants to go to college and work in a country she's grown up in or a gay couple who wants the same rights for their partners as heterosexual couples get.
The potential silver lining in all of this? The more people affected by unfair immigration and equal rights laws, the more there's a chance of political momentum that something will finally be done about it. The current state of political limbo on critical issues doesn't work for anyone.