Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has instructed immigration agents to consider same-sex relationships the same as heterosexual ones in determining whether an individual should be deported.
Although the administration had previously said that same-sex relationships will be taken into account when making deportation decisions, putting it in writing for field officers is considered to be an important change. “This is a huge step forward,” Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of gay rights and reform group Immigration Equality, said in a statement. “Until now, LGBT families and their lawyers had nothing to rely on but an oral promise that prosecutorial discretion would include all families. The Department of Homeland Security has responded to Congress and made that promise real.”
More than 80 House Democrats, led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), called in late July for the Department of Homeland Security to add a specific mention of same-sex couples to its guidelines.