A group of 69 Democratic House members Tuesday asked the Obama administration to provide assurances that updated immigration policies would prevent the deportation of partners in same sex relationships.


In letters (PDF) to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder, lawmakers applauded the August 18 Department of Homeland Security decision to close many "low-priority immigration proceedings," but sought further clarification about how that policy would pertain to same sex couples.

"The [August 18] memorandum does not, however, explicitly say that LGBT family ties, including those of spouses and partners of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, are to be included among the family relationships that weigh in favor of an exercise of discretion," the letter stated.

"The recognition of LGBT family ties as a positive factor is a critical step forward in identifying key family and community ties to implement common-sense immigration enforcement," the lawmakers wrote. "We ask that you ensure that this recognition is reflected in the work of DHS and DOJ employees and the newly-established working group in implementing your priorities for immigration enforcement."

Democrats signing the letter included Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), who is sponsoring legislation that would provide immigration equality to bi-national same sex couples. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and 67 other Democrats also signed the letter.

A married same sex couple successfully argued for the first time this year that a pending deportation should be halted based on the Obama administration's decision to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

"Our immigration laws protect families by allowing spouses of United States citizens to remain in the country," Nadler said in a statement to Raw Story. "No family or committed couple should be needlessly torn apart while we work to bring a final end to this shameful law."

President Barack Obama supports the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that seeks to completely repeal DOMA.

(H/T: Washington Blade)