New Immigration Reform and What it Means for LGBT Families

On Thursday night, President Obama announced the actions he will be taking as president for the new immigration reform. According to ABC News, the reform will give millions of undocumented immigrants temporary legal status under certain conditions. The temporary legal status will protect these undocumented immigrants from deportation. Instead, President Obama wants the focus of law enforcement to be on those illegal immigrants who have commitment felonies or have entered the country illegally within the last year. To qualify for the temporary legal status, one must be a parent of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, have been in the country at least five years, and have not committed any felonies. The President will also expand the criteria for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which will incorporate immigrants of a larger age range and extend the legal status from two years to three years, with an ability to renew.

These immigration reforms will protect a lot of LGBT families from separation due to deportation. LGBT citizens and LGBT permanent residents whose parents are undocumented do not have to be afraid of being separated and losing their family because of deportation. Not only are LGBT children of undocumented immigrants affected by this but also those who are in same-sex marriages. Under these new reforms, same-sex couples will be protected from separation and deportation whether both are undocumented or one is of legal status and the other is not. Another major group that will be protected is those who are LGBT immigrants themselves and seek relief from deportation. This last part is especially important, because a lot of immigrants come from countries who are not tolerant of people that are a part of the LGBT community. This action offers those who fear deportation to less tolerant countries a sense of alleviation and protection from what they could have encountered in their place of origin.

While this action does offer relief to a lot of individuals and families, not all LGBT immigrants will qualify based on the criteria. It is also important to remember that while this reform does provide immigrants protection from deportation, they are only offered temporary legal status, not permanent status. Citizenship or permanent residency can only be achieved if Congress would pass a bill that will continue to correct and improve the immigration system that the President is trying to fix through this executive action.

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