(Washington, DC) – Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today joined the Immigration Equality Action Fund (IEAF) in supporting Connecticut residents Kelli Ryan and her wife Lucy Truman, a married couple seeking a green card through spousal immigration sponsorship, so that Lucy, a citizen of the United Kingdom, can reside permanently in the United States with her wife.
Kelli and Lucy will submit their green card application today accompanied by a letter of support from Blumenthal to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano, urging the agency to hold Kelli and Lucy’s application for a green card application in abeyance until the constitutionality of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same sex marriages, is resolved.
In the letter, Blumenthal says, “Kelli and Lucy are active and valuable members of our community. Having been lawfully married in Connecticut, they now seek to establish long-term roots in our state. Kelli would like to sponsor Lucy for a family-based immigration visa in the hopes of making Connecticut their permanent home. The United States stands to lose two highly intelligent and talented women to the United Kingdom if Lucy – a talented clinician, scientist, and valuable member of our community – is not able to stay in the United States… I ask that you act in this particular case to provide temporary relief to Kelli Ryan and Lucy Truman by holding their spousal petition in abeyance in an effort to avoid future harm to this couple and to the State of Connecticut.”
The text of the letter follows:
The Honorable Janet Napolitano
Department of Homeland Security
Washington DC, 20393
Dear Madam Secretary,
I respectfully request that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in particular, hold the spousal petition of Kelli Ryan and her wife Lucy Truman in abeyance pending a final determination of the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The Department of Justice (DOJ) has already indicated that it believes the law to be unconstitutional, and has declined to defend it in court. Moreover, the question of DOMA’s constitutionality and validity as applied to the lawful marriages of same-sex couples in states like Connecticut has yet to be decided by the federal courts and Congress. Until such a final determination is made, I ask that you withhold judgment on the validity of this petition from lawfully married Connecticut citizens.
In a letter dated April 14, 2011 addressed to you and Attorney General Holder by Representative Lofgren and 47 other members of the United States House of Representatives, similar relief was requested for all married couples of the same sex seeking spousal immigration sponsorship. These 48 Representatives asserted that holding same-sex spousal petitions in abeyance would not disrespect existing law, but would rather, “prevent the potentially irreparable harm that would be caused by application of a law that is currently under review by the courts and the U.S. Congress.” Until a final determination of the status of this law is made, the status quo should be preserved.
Also in April, Senator Kerry and 11 other Senators wrote to you and Attorney General Holder asking that you hold marriage-based petitions in abeyance pending legislative or judicial resolution of the constitutionality of DOMA. In a joint response, you and the Attorney General indicated that both DHS, including relevant sub-agencies such as USCIS, and DOJ exercise discretion in their treatment of individual cases. In my opinion, the couple in the present case deserves such review and should have their spousal petition held in abeyance.
Kelli Ryan and Lucy Truman met in Scotland in 2000. They entered into a civil union in the United Kingdom in 2006 and married in Connecticut in 2010. Kelli is a United States citizen with a Ph.D. in immunology. Lucy, who hails from the United Kingdom, is an ENT surgeon with an M.D. Ph.D. Kelli works for a pharmaceutical company in Connecticut, and is deeply engaged in drug discovery research to help combat deadly autoimmune diseases, with a particular focus on multiple sclerosis. Lucy is a post-doctoral fellow at Yale. Kelli and Lucy are active and valuable members of our community. Having been lawfully married in Connecticut, they now seek to establish long-term roots in our state. Kelli would like to sponsor Lucy for a family-based immigration visa in the hopes of making Connecticut their permanent home. The United States stands to lose two highly intelligent and talented women to the United Kingdom if Lucy – a talented clinician, scientist, and valuable member of our community – is not able to stay in the United States.
In the wake of Attorney General Holder’s February 23, 2011 letter to Congress announcing that the President will no longer defend DOMA in federal court, couples like Kelli and Lucy face great uncertainty about their treatment under the law. Historically, the Department of Homeland Security has responded to such uncertainty by taking administrative actions to ensure the preservation of the status quo until a resolution has been achieved. For instance, in July 2009, DHS temporarily deferred action with regard to the widows of American citizens and their minor children to await impending legislative action that would provide those individuals with a path toward permanent resident status. A similar approach should be taken with regard to section 3 of DOMA as applied to lawful marriages of same-sex couples.
Ultimately, I believe DHS should establish a mechanism allowing couples similarly situated to Kelli and Lucy to have their green card applications held in abeyance. In the absence of such a mechanism, however, I ask that you act in this particular case to provide temporary relief to Kelli Ryan and Lucy Truman by holding their spousal petition in abeyance in an effort to avoid future harm to this couple and to the State of Connecticut. I appreciate your time and attention to this important matter.
Senator Richard Blumenthal
# # #