A victory scored by married bi-national same sex couples this week turned out to be only temporary.
After only one day, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said it would no longer accept green card applications from gays and lesbians with spouses from abroad.
“The guidance we were awaiting… was received last night, so the hold is over, so we’re back to adjudicating cases as we always have,” Christopher Bentley, a USCIS spokesman, told Metro Weekly.
The Obama administration announced last month that it would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court.
The administration said, however, that the law would continue to be enforced until Congress decided to repeal or modify it.
When asked if USCIS would also continue to deny green card applications to bi-national same sex couples, Bentley said, “Correct, based on the enforcement of DOMA.”
Steve Ralls, director of communications for Immigration Equality, told Raw Story that the USCIS decision was disappointing.
“Our government should be in the business of keeping families together, not tearing them apart,” he said. “The Department of Justice has said it believes DOMA is unconstitutional. Immigration Equality agrees, and we believe it is inappropriate to use that unconstitutional law to separate American citizens from their loved ones.”
“We reiterate our call for the Administration to respect our families and halt the denial of green card applications,” Ralls added. “At the very least, DHS should wait for the courts to settle DOMA’s constitutionality before removing spouses who would immediately benefit if the law is struck down.”
Last week Immigration Judge Terry A. Bain gave hope to bi-national same sex couples when he halted deportation proceedings against Monica Alcota, a citizen of Argentina, while her wife, Cristina Ojeda, moves forward with a green card petition on her behalf.