While attempts to give a radical overhaul to the immigration system of the United States have been making the headlines all year, one of the factors that often seems to have gotten lost in all of the discussion is the legal status and rights of undocumented immigrants who are part of the LGBT community.
The Williams Institute has conducted an analysis that suggests that of the one million LGBT immigrants that currently live in the United States, a good 30% of them are undocumented, which means that they remain trapped in an odd legal limbo having a double minority status, something that hinders their ability to both live and work in the country.
One state that is attempting to remedy this situation and bring these undocumented LGBT immigrants out of the shadows is Colorado. Although Colorado does not allow gay marriage, once key aspects of the Defense of Marriage Act were recently struck down by the Supreme Court, it immediately allowed gay couples to be able to sponsor undocumented partners for a green card of citizenship, so long as they were legally married in another state. “What that means is that if you live in a state that does not recognize marriage equality like Colorado, the federal government will still recognize immigrant benefits in Colorado,” says immigration attorney Bryon Large.
The ruling by the Supreme Court allowed immigration officials to be able to recognize marriage licenses that came from states that allow gay marriage, regardless of where the couple now lives, opening up many new opportunities for LGBT immigrants.