Department of Homeland Security to Change Deportation Policy

Yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it will begin using “prosecutorial discretion” in deciding whether or not to pursue the deportation of undocumented immigrants on a case-by-case basis. According to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, these policy changes will allow the government to focus its resources on those cases involving a perceived threat to public safety or national security. Conversely, it is expected that many cases concerning children of undocumented immigrants and partners in same-sex couples will be dismissed. Recent media coverage of bi-national same-sex couples has highlighted the need for these policy changes. Last week, the San Francisco Chronicle shared the heartbreaking story of Bradford Wells and Anthony John Makk, a legally married, bi-national couple facing separation under the so-called “Defense of Marriage” Act. Earlier this year, Henry Velandia and his husband, Josh Vandiver, faced a similar predicament before Henry was notified that his deportation order had been cancelled. While DOMA continues to prohibit the federal government from recognizing the marriages of lesbian and gay couples, the Department of Homeland Security can now forestall the unnecessary and devastating separation of these loving, committed couples. GLAAD applauds the recent media coverage of bi-national same-sex couples and the bleak outcomes they have often faced under discriminatory federal laws. We encourage the media to continue sharing these stories that, while tragic, expose injustice and illustrate the need for change.