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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

DOMA Likely to Be Settled Soon by Supreme Court

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As I noted earlier today, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. The Second Circuit covers New York, one of the several states where same sex marriage has been legalized. DOMA affects immigration cases in a variety of ways. A number of immigration benefits are tied to being legally married to a US citizen or permanent resident and DOMA bars the federal government from recognizing same sex marriages legally performed in the US or abroad.


The ruling is important, but it's the second appeals court ruling and until the US Supreme Court weighs in, USCIS is not likely to reverse course. The White House is no longer defending DOMA in court (the Republicans in Congress are), but it has also said it will continue to operate under DOMA until the courts have definitely ruled.

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  1. jkl's Avatar
    Hello and thank you for the post. Does this ruling change anything in terms of immigration benefits for same sex couples?
  2. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Hi JKL - Not directly. The Administration has basically indicated that they will still enforce DOMA until the law is dealt with by the Supreme Court (probably within the next year or two). But the White House did say this week that same sex spouses would be considered family members in exercising prosecutorial discretion in deportation cases. That's a major development.
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