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Immigration: Foreign spouses of American gays, lesbians cannot apply for green cards

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

In a quick about-face, the U.S. government is again prohibiting foreign spouses of American gays and lesbians from applying for green cards.

"We’re continuing to enforce the law as directed by the President," according to Christopher Bentley, spokesman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Washington.

Earlier this week, USCIS confirmed to gay Metro Weekly that it would hold related cases "in abeyance" until a high court decides constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

The Obama administration in February announced it would no longer defend DOMA's constitutionality. Attorney General Eric Holder said the section of the 1996 law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman is unconstitutional. House Speaker John Boehner later said the House may go to court to defend the law.

Metro Weekly on Wednesday reported that USCIS had lifted the hold.

Steve Ralls, a spokesman for gay-oriented Immigration Equality, criticized the decision.

“Our government should be in the business of keeping families together, not tearing them apart.  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," Ralls said. "We reiterate our call for the Administration to respect our families and halt the denial of green card applications.  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.  Surely we can all agree that no one should be in a rush to force American citizens and their families apart.”

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