US may give gay couples deportation reprieve
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The United States (US) Department of Homeland Security is planning to issue a policy memo stating that illegal immigrants with American same-sex partners are eligible to have their deportations put on hold under a federal program designed to focus resources away from low-priority cases.
The move had been sought by gay rights activists and their allies in Congress before Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced plans for the policy on Thursday in a letter to 84 Democratic lawmakers.
"It will mark the very first time that lesbian and gay couples have been recognised within immigration policy for relief," said Mr Steve Ralls, the spokesman for Immigration Equality, an advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender immigrants.
The Democratic lawmakers addressed in Napolitano's letter pressed the agency to inform Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) field offices that bi-national gay couples in long-term relationships have family ties that should be considered as grounds for deferring a foreign citizen's removal from the US.