Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Thursday that she will instruct immigration agents to consider same-sex relationships the same as heterosexual ones in determining whether an individual should be deported, a victory for advocates and members of Congress who worried verbal instructions could be ignored.
Although the administration had previously told reporters and others that same-sex relationships will be taken into account when making deportation decisions, putting it in writing for field officers is considered to be an important change.
"This is a huge step forward," Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of gay rights and reform group Immigration Equality, said in a statement. "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 has responded to Congress and made that promise real."