President Obama has pledged to take executive action to enact immigration reform in the United States later this year, which may include extending deportation relief to millions of undocumented immigrants; however, a number of activists fear that lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual (LGBT) immigrants will be left out of the equation.
The president is believed to be considering expanding the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which was created by an executive order back in 2012. Undocumented immigrants who were children when they came to the United States can join the program and avoid the risk of being deported, and it is believed that Obama may extend this program to their relatives.
Some groups are worried that a family-based requirement would cause a problem for the LGBT community, which often finds it difficult to establish family ties on a formal basis. There are around 267,000 undocumented LGBT immigrants in the United States and while last year’s ruling by the Supreme Court created a number of new ways to help same-sex couples, many of these only apply in states where same-sex marriages are legal.
“LGBT people didn’t have access to marriage equality for so long – and in some cases, still don’t have that,” Immigration Equality’s legal director Aaron Morris says. “For families, it can be really complicated to have a formally recognized document that proves you are a child’s mother or a spouse of an individual.”