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Same sex couple challenges DOMA in deportation defense

A same-sex couple is bringing federal litigation, seeking to challenge the Defense of Marriage Act in an immigration case. The couple is comprised of a Filipino woman who is facing deportation and her American wife. The two were married in 2008. The two have now filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and others.

The lawsuit, filed on the West Coast, says that the Filipino woman was denied a waiver to obtain residency in the United States. The couple sought the waiver claiming that deportation would impose undue hardship on the couple and the Filipino woman's 25-year-old son.

The couple says that the government did not say that the couple failed to show hardship, but denied the waiver under DOMA, saying that the federal government did not recognize the marriage, and therefore the government did not recognize the two as being relatives.

The women seek class-action status in their challenge to DOMA, seeking to overturn the law on constitutional grounds to benefit immigrants seeking family based visas in same sex relationships. Sources say that 36,000 bi-national same sex couples live in the United States who are denied equal protection and their due process rights under DOMA in family immigration matters.

The Filipino woman had originally come to the United States with her son and common law husband. In 2006, she obtained an employer sponsored green card. But in April 2011, immigration officials said that she must leave the country--stating that she had earlier made misrepresentations about her marital status and that she was in the country illegally.

Immigration officials with the Department of Homeland Security have declined comment on the pending litigation. However, the government does say that DOMA remains in effect and DHS will continue to enforce the law in the absence of congressional repeal or a judicial ruling that the law is unconstitutional.

Source: MSNBC, "Same-sex couple fights to stop deportation, gay marriage ban," Miranda Leitsinger, July 13. 2012

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