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Immigration services actually acting reasonably shocker
July 2, 2013 5:59 AM   Subscribe

"For the last two years, the agency has kept a list of same-sex couples whose green card petitions were denied, the officials said, anticipating that the Supreme Court would eventually weigh in on DOMA. Those denials will now be reversed without couples having to present new applications, if no other issues have arisen." -- The US Immigration and Citizenship Services agency has issued the first green card to a partner in a gay marriage.
posted by MartinWisse (58 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is awesome.
posted by gauche at 6:02 AM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh well done!

I don't know how to read that other than as a sign that ICS, or at least a portion of their staff+managers, strongly wanted DOMA gone. Should mean good things for later claims.
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:03 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It gets a lot of shit, and is often confused for the politicians its serves, but our Civil Service is fucking awesome and regularly shows it like this.
posted by Blasdelb at 6:04 AM on July 2, 2013 [34 favorites]


Someone is going to howl about this because HOW DARE THEY DO THIS and not waste oodles of tax dollars by forcing all those people to reapply and then have to reprocess those applications.

And when they do, I'm going to smile.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:05 AM on July 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


Very occasionally, the arc of justice moves so fast it makes my head spin.
posted by rtha at 6:05 AM on July 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


In the DOMA thread, I talked about a Greek playwright I knew - who as soon as the ruling came down, started posting a whole series of photos on his Facebook feed over the course of that day chronicling his and his boyfriends' application for a wedding license, and updates about their wedding plans (the City-Hall ceremony ASAP so the Greek guy's visa could be renewed, followed by more traditional ceremonies in a year or so).

Yesterday his Facebook feed was filled with pictures from the wedding at City Hall. And in every single one of those pictures, everyone was smiling.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:06 AM on July 2, 2013 [18 favorites]


I'm waiting for the romantic comedy about two Hispanic friends who pretend to be gay to get a green card. With a suspicious official on their trail neither can go after the woman of their dreams. We'll laugh, we'll cry, we'll wonder why the hell Latinos can't get citizenship. Popcorn muncher of the summer I tell ya.
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 6:08 AM on July 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


Yay!

I wish I had something more profound to say...wait, no I don't.

Yay!
posted by xingcat at 6:09 AM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


"I don't know how to read that other than as a sign that ICS, or at least a portion of their staff+managers, strongly wanted DOMA gone. Should mean good things for later claims."

Ehh, its more that they knew our constitution better than our legislators did, correctly anticipated the job they would need to do before they would need to do it, and efficiently executed their duties to the people of the United States without bias.
posted by Blasdelb at 6:10 AM on July 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm waiting for the romantic comedy about two Hispanic friends who pretend to be gay to get a green card. With a suspicious official on their trail neither can go after the woman of their dreams. We'll laugh, we'll cry, we'll wonder why the hell Latinos can't get citizenship. Popcorn muncher of the summer I tell ya.

They already did that one starring John Oliver and Jason Jones as two comedians who get married for green cards only to discover neither are American. Hilariousness ensues (for about three minutes, the length of the sketch).

Mostly I just read this article and smiled.
posted by jb at 6:19 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is exactly what "public service" means.
posted by kewb at 6:21 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ok NOW we can celebrate.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:21 AM on July 2, 2013


Blasdelb: "It gets a lot of shit, and is often confused for the politicians its serves, but our Civil Service is fucking awesome and regularly shows it like this."

I think a lot of this is about political appointees, though, rather than civil servants. I'm sure they had a plan in place since the DOMA lawsuit was filed (if not longer), but if Janet Napolitano's evil twin was in charge, I have little doubt that the policy wouldn't change until someone sued to change it.
posted by hoyland at 6:22 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I actually think the BEST part of this is that the couple lives in Florida, which does not respect their marriage. Go federalism.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:24 AM on July 2, 2013 [13 favorites]


Man, I just got a little frisson of joy. This is great.
posted by notsnot at 6:26 AM on July 2, 2013


Gosh, that was a nice way to start the day!
posted by jacquilynne at 6:27 AM on July 2, 2013


Although it was a professional setting, he said, he began to weep with emotion when he realized the significance of the notice.

Yeah, I'm weeping with emotion too. This past week or so has been one long weep-fest for me as the world shifts dramatically in ways which were unimaginable when I came out in 1990.
posted by hippybear at 6:29 AM on July 2, 2013 [13 favorites]


If you'd like to know more about these two fine gentlemen, there's a longer article in the Washington Blade.

As some of you may know, I work as a paralegal in a small immigration law firm. Over the next few weeks, we plan to place ads in all the gay and alternative papers in the area. We also got a message from one of our old clients this morning, asking if we can file a fiance petition for his partner of seven years.

The times, they are a-changin', and it's good for business!
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:34 AM on July 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


Mr. Popov, 41, said he had been living legally in the United States for 15 years with a series of student visas. He has completed three master’s degrees, he said, and is working on a doctorate in social science at Nova Southeastern University in Florida

Man, he just kept studying so that he could remain here legally with the person he loved. I wish them the best.
posted by vacapinta at 6:34 AM on July 2, 2013 [15 favorites]


I always thought Janet Napolitano was somehow her own evil twin.
posted by item at 6:34 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


"It gets a lot of shit, and is often confused for the politicians its serves, but our Civil Service is fucking awesome and regularly shows it like this."

Let's not be too hasty to be overly generous.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:34 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Despite how truly fucking hard we try not to, every now and then we do the right thing.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:38 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow! Efficiency, forethought and proactiveness! Would that all of our organizations, both public and private, look more like this.

Also, YAY!
posted by Sophie1 at 6:45 AM on July 2, 2013


I saw this a couple of days ago and it makes me so happy even though I'm not at all affected by it personally.

When I moved from Ireland to New Zealand the only reason why my husband was allowed to come with me and live with me was because we're legally married in a way that Ireland recognises. And now, more than two years later, the only reason why I'm allowed to stay living here with him is that same marriage certificate (we've taken turns being employed basically). Being able to choose for ourselves if we want to live in the same country or not is such a luxury and it makes our lives so much better.

And it seems like such a weird fluke that we're the ones allowed to do this. We're not religious, we're not having kids (including a surgical procedure to make that extra sure), we didn't have any kind of wedding, we don't care about being married, and at best I find it all a hilarious joke. But because we happen to be the "correct" gender combination here we are.

Knowing how good it is to have this privilege I just can't imagine not wanting everyone to have the same rights. So it makes me smile and tear up a little every time I hear abut another set of people being allowed the same autonomy and freedom over their own lives and about another set of couples being allowed to love each other and be together. That just never seems like a bad thing.
posted by shelleycat at 7:10 AM on July 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


Also I guess that part of why stories like this one specifically make me happy is because I still find it difficult to give a shit about being married, for me or anyone else. But when all families get to reap the benefits of a legally recognised union (be it for immigration, money, adoption, whatever) that feels real and useful to me.
posted by shelleycat at 7:12 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love this for all the right reasons, but also especially because it will surely piss off my asshole Senator Marco Rubio.
posted by Cookiebastard at 7:15 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


ICE is a law enforcement agency. It enforces the law. The problem, from day one, has been bad law.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:17 AM on July 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Let's not be too hasty to be overly generous.

The date on that article is June 23, 2008.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:20 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It gets a lot of shit, and is often confused for the politicians its serves, but our Civil Service is fucking awesome and regularly shows it like this.

Sir Humphrey: Well, almost all government policy is wrong, but frightfully well carried out.
posted by Garm at 7:25 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Love is good where ever you find it," Mojojojo's mom.
posted by Mojojojo at 7:32 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Holy shit, didn't expect that - someone in the gov actually has a heart!
posted by Old'n'Busted at 7:32 AM on July 2, 2013


Pope Guilty: Let's not be too hasty to be overly generous.
Noun 1. muckraker - one who spreads real or alleged scandal about another (usually for political advantage)

The Civil Service, composed of millions of people, and hundreds of agencies, is not uniformly a benign and enlightened body. News at 11.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:38 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


ICE is a law enforcement agency. It enforces the law. The problem, from day one, has been bad law.

USCIS grants green cards, not ICE. USCIS, ICE, and CBP have been entirely separate agencies since *looks* 2003.

This is a great thing, since it means that USCIS field offices don't get shut down to focus entirely on enforcement for a few months while all their applications just pile up. Apparently this was relatively common back when it was all just INS.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:00 AM on July 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yay for them thinking outside the box and doing their best for the people they serve! :) How awesome!

Kid Charlemagne: "Someone is going to howl about this because HOW DARE THEY DO THIS and not waste oodles of tax dollars by forcing all those people to reapply and then have to reprocess those applications. "

Doesn't it cost like a thousand dollars or more in filing fees to apply for a green card? I'm with you on saving time and money being a great thing, but if so the monetary savings could even out in lost fees. Or they might even tally a loss.
posted by zarq at 8:03 AM on July 2, 2013


I mean... fuck the howlers. Seriously, fuck 'em. I'm just not sure there's an actual monetary savings here. USCIS are sure as hell saving their staffers and applicants time, though.
posted by zarq at 8:05 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


As someone who has had his fair share of spousal visa woes, I can't help smile when I read this. By smile, I mean, grin widely ear to ear. Wow, the Kafkaesque immigration complex can do some good occasionally eh, who'da thunk it?
posted by the cydonian at 8:22 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Since Obama regularly gets blamed for actions at the lower rungs of the ladder, he deserves some credit for this: thanks, Mr President.
posted by inigo2 at 8:26 AM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm really enjoying reading the dull-but-momentous memos that have been coming out this week.
posted by jessamyn at 8:28 AM on July 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


Doesn't it cost like a thousand dollars or more in filing fees to apply for a green card?

Not if you do it yourself, without an immigration lawyer. My husband just got his 10-year card and we paid ~600 in fees. (Though I guess you could add the previous fee for the K-1 visa and end up with twice that amount, but at least this comes in chunks.)


Considering the usual levels of bureaucracy and mazes of paperwork involved in these scenarios, I'm ecstatic and totally surprised this happened! I hope the happiness keeps spreading.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 8:30 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can we declare now cynicism is dead?

When I say 'dead' I mean useless as a philosophy of living.

40 years ago, and in another month or so, Dr. King will get in front of an entire movement of humans demanding social justice, and two generations later his dream will be realized for all Americans, regardless of race, sexual orientation, or gender.

I mean we are not there yet, but how can anyone look back on the last century with anything less than complete awe at how fast and how sudden this all ultimately was.

And then the cynic comes out from under their bridge, to turn our attention away from this joy to all of the problems we still face, problems which equality did not just up and cause to disappear, and they point, and they frustrate us with their empty polemics and their lack of any actual solutions.

This then is when we realize the truth. Cynicism never makes sense, is never rational, and actually ignores the true trajectory of our evolving consciousness as a species. We realize we are here today, free men and women, not because we listened again and again to the rising crescendo, the cynic's deafening wail, pointing out all the problems we face. No, we are standing here today free because of the hardwork and sacrifice of millions of realists who invested in costly dangerous hope and not cheap despair.

As tears well up in my eyes, I am emboldened by this victory, I am not daunted by the tasks remaining. I know the road is long and hard, but just one moment like this in a whole lifetime makes all the struggle and sacrifice so completely worth it. We must fight on until we have recovered all of our liberties, but I for one am now marching with a spring in my step and a song of freedom in my heart.
posted by jalitt at 9:02 AM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is a great thing, since it means that USCIS field offices don't get shut down to focus entirely on enforcement for a few months while all their applications just pile up. Apparently this was relatively common back when it was all just INS.

No, enforcement and adjudication have always been seperate now they have their own funding streams and HR departments (and even less reason to talk to each other). What did and still happens to some extent is an entire Form line getting pulled from processing their Form in order to bring down a backlog on another Form. Not only does this mean their typical Forms build up but that the backlog Form gets reviewed by hastily trained individuals under tight time constraints, a real formula for success!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:07 AM on July 2, 2013


As someone living in Texas, I am super pleased that the first petition was granted to a married couple in Florida. It sets a great precedent for how the Federal government is going to treat couples who are legally married but living in states that don't recognize it.
posted by jph at 9:09 AM on July 2, 2013


Someone is going to howl about this because HOW DARE THEY DO THIS and not waste oodles of tax dollars by forcing all those people to reapply and then have to reprocess those applications.

Let them bitch. Application processing and adjudication is fee funded.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:10 AM on July 2, 2013


Yeah, I'm weeping with emotion too. This past week or so has been one long weep-fest for me as the world shifts dramatically in ways which were unimaginable when I came out in 1990.

I was talking to my mom about all this, and I said "Things have just changed so much, I mean, within my lifetime!"

She said "Honey, things have changed so much within your daughter's lifetime." And she's right. My daughter was born in 2006. Since then, marriage equality has come to California (twice), Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, D.C., New York, Washington, Maine, Maryland, Delaware, Minnesota, and Rhode Island, not to mention Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, France, New Zealand, and many American Indian Nations. Sexual orientation was added to the Federal definition of conditions that could trigger hate crime violations. DADT was repealed.

In other jurisdictions, things have moved more slowly, but they are moving: it is no longer illegal to be gay in India, Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua, Nepal, and Fiji. Chasing down dates for protection against legal discrimination has been harder, but those rights are expanding. There is so so so much more left to do, don't get me wrong, marriage equality isn't the end game for LGBT rights, but my daughter was born into a nation that was much, much less safe for gay people than it is now.
posted by KathrynT at 9:14 AM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


For me the shocker is that two gay men would ever purposefully eat at Red Lobster.
Let alone celebrate a birthday there, unless it was ironically.
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 9:17 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


For me the shocker is that two gay men would ever purposefully eat at Red Lobster.

we like cheese biscuits, too
posted by fallacy of the beard at 9:33 AM on July 2, 2013 [13 favorites]


She said "Honey, things have changed so much within your daughter's lifetime." And she's right. My daughter was born in 2006.

You want a great example check out Latvia! From anti-gay legislation and a government actively promoting homophobia to being named the next host of Europride (not that the bigots aren't pissed at that, but screw 'em!).
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:33 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not shocked by someone who has been a graduate student for the past 15 or so years celebrating their birthday at a chain restaurant rather than somewhere fancy.
posted by shelleycat at 9:47 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man, he just kept studying so that he could remain here legally with the person he loved. I wish them the best.

I am really curious about whether this is a thing. Most of the people I know in similar situations (legally married but with uncertain immigration status) usually has work visas so I'd love to know more about whether there are now masses of overeducated gay married folks about to become legal residents. What good news for every single person everywhere.
posted by jessamyn at 9:54 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I emigrated to Canada in 1997 to join my (same-sex) partner. At the time- I sent the application to the Buffalo office in September, 1996- same-sex couples weren't treated under the Canadian family class category but a network of us ascertained that we could request "H&C," or "Humane and Compassionate," consideration as a same-sex couple who experienced "disproportionate hardship" (a phrase I'll never forget) due to our lack of legal status and in particular that we had no option to be joined in the US, where I was from, since my partner was from Trinidad and Tobago (he took Canadian citizenship right around this time) and would never be admitted to the US under the auspices of being my partner. We never considered or even imagined using the term "husband" or "spouse" since same-sex marriage wasn't even a pipe dream back then.

I got my permanent resident visa (Canada's version of a Green Card) in five months. Within a year of my immigration, Canada would start to treat same-sex partners as family class, a huge, huge victory for people like me. And if course we'd be able to get married in some provinces as early as June 2003; we'd be able to be married nationwide and have our marriage recognised as per a federal definition in June 2005.

Anyway, this turn of events is shockingly amazing and it's great to see a committed couple (and a damn handsome one at that) be able to be joined legitimately without this ridiculous effort of forcing a man in his 50s to remain a perpetual student. It's great but it's horribly late. Still, it's comforting to know that if I had to, for some reason, move back to the states, I could- just maybe- take my husband with me. This is a circumstance most straight couples cannot even imagine- it's not unheard of to have one's marriage questioned or unrecognised, but is a resoundingly recurrent aspect of our life together, the fact that we transit from being a married couple with 100% equal status to heterosexual couples (in Canada, yes in ALL parts of Canada) to being travelling companions at best in much of the US (we can't go through customs as "family" for example) to being bona fide criminals (in Trinidad).
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:56 AM on July 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


I am really curious about whether this is a thing.

It is. Lots of folks enter or reenter student status to remain in the US lawfully. As long as you can afford the tuition, it's a whole lot easier than trying to get an employer petitioner. It wouldn't surprise me at all to learn that there are more people who remain in student status just to be with their partners.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:00 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


we can't go through customs as "family" for example

I'm willing to bet that this, too, will be changing.
posted by hippybear at 10:02 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


we can't go through customs as "family" for example

I'm willing to bet that this, too, will be changing.


That one's already been in the works actually.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:22 AM on July 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


That makes me so happy. Way to go, Immigration and Citizenship Services!
posted by epj at 12:05 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


fallacy of the beard: "For me the shocker is that two gay men would ever purposefully eat at Red Lobster.

we like cheese biscuits, too
"

Actually, if I understand it correctly, you want EVERYONE to eat cheese biscuits.
posted by Samizdata at 12:52 PM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


The gay agenda finally revealed?
posted by MartinWisse at 1:52 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


we can't go through customs as "family" for example

I went through Customs as an individual when returning from Toronto to the US some years ago. The officer asked the usual questions about what I was bringing back and then asked why I had gone. "To attend a wedding," I said. When he asked whose wedding, I answered, "My own, actually."
posted by Morrigan at 3:17 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


ICE is a law enforcement agency. It enforces the law. The problem, from day one, has been bad law.

Well that and enforcing it in overly aggressive dickhead ways that really stink of just flexing to show your domination.

To be clear i get your point here, but still, yea. It's not just the law that was or is wrong with ICE. And a lot of what is wrong with them hasn't changed i'm sure.

I'm actually really surprised to see they moved this quickly on this. I bet they're just trying to avoid some high-profile legal case blowing up on the internet if they hadn't.
posted by emptythought at 4:05 PM on July 2, 2013


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