Death of DOMA has Profound Implications for Immigrants

by | Jun 27, 2013 | Firm News |

by Rubina Chuang

SCOTUS deals fatal blow to DOMA

Yesterday, June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional.

DOMA Section 3 stated that marriage for all purposes under federal law was defined as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.” Under this section, the federal government did not recognize same-sex marriages as valid for the purposes of federal law, even if the marriage was valid under state law.

The Court held this section to be unconstitutional because it defined the meaning of “marriage” for all states, going beyond a “minor” limitation on state-sanctioned marriage-a clear intrusion of state sovereignty. The Court clarified that, now, if a state decides to recognize same-sex marriage, the federal government must recognize the marriage as a legitimate marriage for purposes of distributing federal benefits.

It is important to note that this decision does not guarantee the right to same-sex marriage in every state. The Court did not address DOMA’s Section 2, which continues to give states the right to prohibit same-sex marriages within their state boundaries.

In a separate opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to decide the issue posed by California’s ban on same-sex marriage under Proposition 8, namely whether banning same-sex marriage is constitutional. Instead, the Court dismissed the case because the parties who brought the appeal did not have standing. For those of us living in the Golden State, this opinion has the same practical effect as if Proposition 8 was struck down. It is thus likely that same-sex marriages in California will resume very soon.

What This Means for Immigrants

Although many states still prohibit same-sex marriage, the death of DOMA means that the federal government will now recognize a same-sex marriage as a legitimate marriage, as long as it was legal within the state it was performed. Thus, with this decision, married same-sex couples may soon be able to receive the same immigration benefits as heterosexual couples. This change will impact immigration in many ways, including the following:

1. U.S. citizens in a same-sex relationship with a foreign national may now petition for a visa on behalf of his or her spouse,

2. Same-sex spouses may also be considered derivatives in visa applications,

3. When determining hardship, immigration judges and Department of Homeland Security officers may take into consideration a same-sex spouse’s hardship in deciding whether to grant a visa or relief from deportation.

It is important to note that even if a same-sex couple lives in a state where same-sex marriage is prohibited, they can marry in a state that does allow same-sex marriage, and still qualify for federal immigration benefits.

While the decision is already helping to stop deportations in the immigration court context, prospective applicants should note that no formal changes have been implemented yet, and it would be wise to wait until they have before filing any affirmative applications with USCIS. We are hopeful that the changes will be implemented soon, as the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, has already issued a statement to the press confirming that DHS is “working with our federal partners, including the Department of Justice, [to] implement today’s decision so that all married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of our immigration laws.”

If you think you may now be eligible for an immigration benefit, it is important to consult with an immigration attorney to understand how and when you can apply.

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Big News- Firm Merger and Consolidation to Oakland!

Bean + Lloyd, LLP and Park & Taylor has formed Bean, Lloyd, Mukherji, & Taylor, LLP

San Francisco Office has Moved to Join Oakland Office

We are thrilled to announce the merger of Bean + Lloyd, LLP and Park & Taylor, two highly respected Bay Area immigration law firms, which took place in April 2021. The new firm, Bean, Lloyd, Mukherji, & Taylor, LLP, combines decades of immigration experience in the subfields of family-based immigration, removal defense, asylum, humanitarian visas, and criminal immigration.

Additionally, the former Park & Taylor office in San Francisco has moved to join the Oakland office at 110 11th Street, Oakland, CA 94607. While the office is temporarily closed to the public due to COVID-19, our staff is still available by phone, email, and text message, and all consultations and client appointments will continue by phone or video. We look forward to physically reopening our expanded and improved Oakland office when it is safe to do so.

Partners Jesse Lloyd and Anita Mukherji, both certified specialists in immigration and nationality law by the California State Bar, lead the firm. Karyn Taylor has joined as Of Counsel, and Angela Bean remains as partner and Anna von Herrmann as Of Counsel. The Park & Taylor staff have brought their two decades of experience to the team.

Please contact us at (510) 433-1900 or with any inquiries.

¡Anuncio importante- Unión y Consolidación de Dos Bufetes! Bean + Lloyd, LLP y Park & Taylor han Formado Bean, Lloyd, Mukherji, & Taylor, LLP

La oficina de Park & Taylor se ha mudado para unirse a la oficina de Oakland

Estamos emocionados de anunciar la unión entre Bean + Lloyd, LLP y Park & Taylor, dos bufetes de inmigración muy respetados en el Área de la Bahía, lo cual ocurrió en abril del 2021. El bufete nuevo, Bean, Lloyd, Mukherji, & Taylor, LLP, combina décadas de experiencia en inmigración familiar, defensa de deportación, asilo, visas humanitarias, e inmigración criminal.

Además, la antigua oficina de Park & Taylor en San Francisco se ha mudado para unirse a la oficina de Oakland en 110 11th Street, Oakland, CA 94607. Nuestra oficina está temporalmente cerrada al público debido a COVID-19. Nuestro personal seguirá estando disponible por teléfono, correo electrónico y texto. Todas las consultas y citas de clientes, continuarán por teléfono o videollamada. Estamos emocionados para reabrir físicamente nuestra ampliada y mejorada oficina de Oakland cuando sea seguro hacerlo.

Los socios Jesse Lloyd y Anita Mukherji, dos especialistas certificados en ley de inmigración y nacionalidad por la Barra del Estado de California, dirigen el bufete. Karyn Taylor es abogada retirada pero se ha unido al bufete, Angela Bean permanece como socia y Anna von Herrmann sigue siendo parte del bufete. El personal de Park & Taylor ha compartido sus dos décadas de experiencia con el equipo.

Por favor contáctenos al (510) 433-1900 o con sus preguntas.

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