Top immigration attorneys saw some major changes to the world of immigration recently when the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Why did this piece of legislation impact immigration? In the past, DOMA prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, which meant that same-sex couples did not have the same immigration rights as heterosexual couples. With the striking down of DOMA, same-sex and heterosexual couples all receive equal protection and rights under federal law – and this includes immigration law.
South Florida stands to see a big impact from these changes, because we have significant LGBT and immigrant populations. According to the 2011 Census, Broward County is the state leader in same-sex households, followed by Orange County and Miami-Dade. In the same year, the Brookings Institute reported that South Florida had the largest immigrant population among the top 100 US metropolitan areas, with 37.1 percent of the population being foreign-born. Top immigration attorneys in South Florida predict that the dismantling of DOMA could have a far-reaching impact in our region.
Top Immigration Attorneys Explain the Impact of DOMA on Immigration Reform
Reports show that there are 40,000 same-sex couples living in the United States where one partner is not a US citizen. Further estimates show that among the 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, 267,000 self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. This is a considerable proportion of people who may be further affected by immigration reform.
When DOMA was in effect, same-sex couples were not subject to any changes in immigration reform. However, these marriages are now recognized by federal law, which means that equal rights are conferred upon the union. Previously, if one member of a same-sex marriage was foreign, family-based immigration visas were not available. Top immigration attorneys can now assist US citizens in filing family-based immigrant visa petitions for their foreign spouse. This right is in place whether or not the couple lives in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, as long as their marriage took place in a state that does.