Pelosi, Dems push Homeland Security for clarity on LGBT deportations

Scores of House Democrats called on the Obama administration this week to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) couples when considering deportations.

Behind Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the lawmakers want the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to state explicitly that LGBT "family ties" will be deemed "a positive factor" discouraging deportation as DHS agents gauge whether to pursue cases.

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"Without specific, written guidance, there remains the very real risk agency officers, agents, and attorneys making decisions about individual cases would overlook LGBT family ties, particularly the ties of immigrants to their U.S. citizen same-sex partners or spouses, and thereby, decline to exercise prosecutorial discretion," Pelosi, Nadler and 82 other Democrats wrote in a July 31 letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano.

"A written policy is the best way to ensure that the decision by President Obama and DHS to recognize LGBT family ties for immigration purposes will be implemented so that families will remain together," they added.

At issue is DHS's year-old deportation policy empowering officials to use "prosecutorial discretion" to prioritize illegal immigrants considered a danger to national security or public safety, while allowing students and other non-threatening people to remain in the country.

The administration on numerous occasions has said that LGBT relationships are a factor underlying those decisions, but the Democrats say those statements lack the force of an official written guidance.

The lawmakers made a similar request last September, and were agitated by DHS's response. Ten months later, they're trying again.

"Since our last letter to you, there have been several key developments which show that the verbal policy you articulated to protect LGBT families in and of itself remains inadequate," they wrote.

"It would be beyond senseless," they added, "to see LGBT persons with family ties here in the United States deported simply because the affected persons, their attorneys, and/or ICE officials were unaware of DHS’s verbal policy."