ICE Softens Its Stance on DREAM Act Kids, but Still Hazy On Gays

Categories: Immigration
Can Anthony Makk, left, and Bradford Wells get a break?
The DREAM Act kids seem to be getting a break, but what about gay couples?

Update, 5:30 p.m.: It seems gay couples are still out of luck. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice e-mailed to clarify what the new memo means when it talks about "spouses." That doesn't include gay ones: "Pursuant to the Attorney General's guidance, the Defense of Marriage Act remains in effect and the Executive Branch, including [the Department of Homeland Security], will continue to enforce it unless and until Congress repeals it or there a final judicial determination that it is unconstitutional," Kice wrote. 

Original post:
A memo sent on Friday from the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement appears to tell immigration officers to have a little heart when it comes to enforcing immigration law against DREAM Act-eligible students. Specifically, it says immigration officers deciding who to target for deportation should consider whether illegal aliens were brought into the United States as kids and whether they are now pursuing higher education.

The June 17 memo came from ICE Director John Morton, who provides a list of categories that ICE agents should use to help them exercise "discretion" when deciding who to prioritize for deportation. ICE is one of three federal agencies that can start deportation proceedings against illegal immigrants. However, Morton lists 19 factors that ICE officers should consider when deciding to do so, including whether the immigrants were brought here as children, whether they plan to pursue higher education, or if they have served in the military.

The new list also says ICE officers should consider whether the immigrant has a U.S. citizen spouse or family member.

So that brings up the devil in the details: Does that include gay spouses?

Gay Americans cannot sponsor their spouses for a visa as straight couples can. Just last week, we wrote about a gay San Francisco couple who could soon be separated because of this inequity. The ICE memo states that immigration officers should consider "whether the person has a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse," but activists are demanding that ICE broaden -- or at least clarify -- the definition of spouse.

Immigration Equality, a national nonprofit which advocates for gay immigrants, says Morton's memo is ambiguous on this point.

"While ICE has taken a significant step in recognizing that tearing apart families should not be a government priority, it must be explicit that lesbian and gay families are protected, too," Rachel Tiven, Immigration Equality's director, said in a statement.

Tiven stated that it was especially important to explicitly mention LGBT families, since the current Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as only between a man and woman, does not include them. "If the Administration does support efforts to keep LGBT families together, it should tell its field offices as much," Tiven says.

We asked ICE for a clarification, we will tell you more when we learn more.

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Pass the Dream ACT 


To Mema: I would hardly qualify this as "special treatment," since DREAM act kids still won't have any kind of legal status (which means no scholarships no real jobs, etc.), no matter how "nice" ICE officials are to them, whatever that means and however it's applied. This memo is just cheap and patronizing to EVERYONE.

Mema Dada
Mema Dada

These memo's are one of the main reasons administrative law is inconsistent and leads to arbitrary enforcement of the laws, while putting some of those in the group above the law, others are still prosecuted under the laws. Does not our Constitution demand equal treatment for all under the law? How does the memo propose to bring about equal treatment when it specifically demands that some within the group of illegal immigrants be treated differently then others

Nativo Lopez IX
Nativo Lopez IX

Why is ICE allowing ANY illegal immigrants to remain in this country? Their job is to detect and remove unauthorized foreign nationals. It time for ICE to get off its butt and start deporting undocumented aliens at once.


Cause they have families here you ignorant FUQ.

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