The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has decided to grant deferred action on the immigration case of an Australian man who is married to an American and who had been denied a marriage-based green card. According to the news release issued by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Cali), this denial had wrongly been issued on the grounds that the marriage is between a same sex couple, which is no longer even considered proper grounds for denial ever since the new policy of prosecutorial discretion was implemented. This means that John Makk can now rest safely without the fear of potentially facing deportation and separation from his partner, Bradford Wells. Nancy Pelosi said in a statement, “the positive resolution of Anthony’s immigration petition is a personal victory for Bradford and Anthony, and keeps this loving couple together.” Anthony would have faced deportation because of the discriminatoryDefense of Marriage Act (DOMA), even though he has lived in the United States for more than 20 years, has no criminal history, has never lived here illegally and is the primary caregiver to his husband. The Obama Administration’s recent efforts to prioritize immigration enforcement for the removal of criminals and others who pose a threat to national security helped pave the way for this favorable outcome. Although this is not a permanent solution, it is a meaningful and significant one that lifts the cloud of uncertainty that has hung over them for so long. While they will not be separated, they will need to continue to work towards achieving a permanent solution for themselves and all couples in their situation as well. But at the very least, this can be taken as a hopeful sign that things are changing. The decision by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to stop DOMA deportations involving binational couples in three high profile cases in Newark, Manhattan and San Francisco in 2011 demonstrates that the Obama administration has the ability to apply discretionary, humanitarian guidelines to keep all LGBT families together by ensuring that no homosexual American is separated from his or her spouse because of the Defense of Marriage Act. Representative Nancy Pelosi concluded by talking about the DOMA repeal efforts in Congress, saying, “I appreciate the considerations of USCIS in granting this relief to my constituents. I join Anthony and Bradford in celebrating the decision, and will continue to work to repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.”
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