Top Immigration Headlines: March 2012
March immigration headlines featured discussions on the effects of federal marriage laws on same-sex immigrant couples and several important court rulings on local and state immigration laws. Here is a sampling of March’s top immigration headlines:
Trudy Ring of The Advocate reported that a gay immigrant may be deported due to his undocumented status, discovered during a routine traffic stop. The Bay Area couple have been together since 2001 and were married in New York State, but the Defense of Marriage Act prevents their union from being recognized by the federal government. Alfonso Garcia, a Mexican national, was brought to the US as a child. He was detained at a detention facility in Arizona pending his hearing.
2. Immigration, marriage laws leave same-sex couples in limbo
Foreign-born partners in same-sex partnerships live in limbo under the federal Defense of Marriage Act, according to Curtis Tate of McClatchy Newspapers. They are not considered married by the federal government, although they are considered married in some states. This difference in definitions can have “dehumanizing” effects on gay immigrants in relationships who often face deportations because the government does not recognize their marriages. In a heterosexual relationship, a foreign born spouse married to a US citizen would be given the opportunity to apply for a green card and to eventually stay in the US.
A Court of Appeals case in Texas upheld a decision that a city ordinance banning illegal immigrants from renting housing in a Dallas suburb is unenforceable, according to Julián Aguilar of The Texas Tribune. The city ordinance was found to be unconstitutional because it contravenes the federal government’s exclusive authority to regulate immigration. Although the ruling is a victory for immigrants in the area, the ruling cannot predict the outcome of other cases challenging state immigration laws before the federal courts.
A federal appeals court ordered an injunction against enforcement of more parts of Alabama’s controversial immigration law until the case is decided, according to Eric Randall of The Atlantic Wire. The sections barred from enforcement include one that barred illegal immigrants from obtaining a driver’s license, one that barred courts from enforcing contracts involving illegal immigrants, and another requiring schools to check the immigration status of enrolled students.
The provisions will be blocked until the final outcome of the legal challenge by the Obama administration, arguing that the state is pre-empted from regulating immigration matters by the federal government. The court will not decide on Alabama’s law until the Supreme Court issues a decision on Arizona’s similar law, SB 1070, later this year.
The Clarion-Ledger, based in Jackson, Miss., reported that a recent immigration bill approved by the Mississippi House will likely have unintended consequences. House Bill 488, modeled after immigration laws in Alabama and Arizona, would provide sanctions against doing business with illegal immigrants and enlist state and local law enforcement agencies to help identify illegal immigrants. The law does not anticipate the costs of training local law enforcement to implement the new regulations, nor does it contemplate the effect that deportations have on immigrant families who are separated when a member is deported.