As you know, Klinke Immigration is based in Marietta – a suburb of Atlanta. I don’t let geography hold me to one place, though. The past week has seen me collect over 3000 frequent flier miles. Why all the travel?
The Colorado Chapter of AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) invited me to come and speak at their annual conference last week. The conference was held in Black Hawk – an old mining town that is full of casinos, about 30 miles outside of Denver. Having grown up in Kansas, it was nice to be back to the middle of the country – steak, leather chairs, and clean air! And let’s not forget the snow. Yes – snow in middle October. It was beautiful, but quite a change from the temperate weather in Atlanta!
There were 15 informative sessions and I was on a panel discussing advanced VAWA issues. I’m sure there were plenty of AILA Colorado Chapter conference attendees who could have spoken on VAWA, so it was a true honor to be asked to share my thoughts on recent trends in VAWA adjudications. So thank you, Colorado Chapter, for having me out. I hope to be back next year.
On this week’s agenda is a trip to Washington, DC. The AILA USCIS Field Operations Committee will meet with the top brass from USCIS where each AILA member raises a question. We’ll be talking about the new Customer Identity Verification program, about the year-long waits for I-130 adjudications in consular processing cases, and the automated I-94 program. I am excited about my question – how USCIS is training and deciding same-sex marriage applications now that DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) no longer applies to immigration cases. I’m curious to hear about the type of sensitivity training that has been developed.
My biggest concern, though, is about documentation. In “traditional” marriage cases, USCIS looks for joint documents – leases, insurance, taxes, utility bills. USCIS may also call friends, family, coworkers, and landlords to verify that a couple truly is a couple. But what do you do with a same-sex couple that may not be “out”? Or what if a family isn’t supportive and refuses to write a support letter for the couple? Or what if one spouse works for a conservative organization who would fire him/her if the management knew about the same-sex relationship? Will same-sex couples be afforded certain confidentiality or discretion by USCIS? I’ll be sure to report back with any answers were able to get!