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Rainbow Welcome Initiative

Commends Obama Administration for New Immigration Guidelines

Heartland Alliance’s Rainbow Welcome Initiative commends the Obama Administration and the Department of Homeland Security for its new written guidance that will afford protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) non-citizens facing deportation, who have U.S. citizen spouses or domestic partners. Under the guidelines, a LGBT immigrant’s relationship to a U.S. citizen will now be considered during deportation proceedings. Though these guidelines were first issued in June 2011, they were not written and thus remained ambiguous for judges when adhering to prosecutorial discretion policies.

“This is a huge step forward,” said Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality. “Until now, LGBT families and their lawyers had nothing to rely on but an oral promise that prosecutorial discretion would include all families. Today, DHS [Department of Homeland Security] has responded to Congress and made that promise real. The Administration’s written guidance will help families facing separation and the field officers who are reviewing their cases.”

DHS has previously discussed its intention to encourage judges’ use of prosecutorial discretion and prioritize deportations of convicts and those who pose a threat to national security.  This latest victory for LGBT immigrants and their families demonstrates the administration’s continued commitment to ensuring protections and equality for LGBT persons.

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