Author Archives: Eleanor J. Sintjago Sintjago

U.S. Supreme Court Rules DOMA Unconstitutional, Bi-national Same-Sex Couples Can Now Receive Immigration Benefits

The decision on June 26, 2013, issued by the United States Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor, holding that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, will benefit same-sex married couples in which one spouse is not either a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident. The Defensive of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a federal law that limits the recognition of marriage to only opposite-sex couples.  Now that Section 3 of DOMA has been ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, the federal government cannot exclude same-sex couples from federal laws and programs, which include immigration laws.

As of June 26, 2013, following United States v. Windsor, U.S. federal immigration law allows a United States Citizen or Permanent Resident to legally sponsor his or her non-citizen spouse for Permanent Resident Status on the basis of marriage. Permanent Residence allows non-citizens to live and work in the United States indefinitely. Thus, the foreign national in a same-sex marriage can now obtain a “Green Card” as long as his or her marriage was legal where it took place. In the U.S., same-sex marriage is legal in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a statement immediately following the Supreme Court’s decision. In this statement, Janet Napolitano, Secretary of DHS, applauds the Court for ruling DOMA unconstitutional, calling DOMA “discriminatory” towards same-sex couples; “Working with our federal partners, including the Department of Justice, we will implement today’s decision so that all married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of our immigration laws.”

As this development is brand new, we anticipate questions yet to be answered. However, under current law, we are able to assist any bi-national same-sex married couple in pursuing and obtaining Lawful Permanent Residence for the foreign national spouse. We will be happy to take such cases and look forward to representing same-sex married couples in the future. In fact, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has already granted Permanent Residence in a bi-national same-sex marriage case.

Please call our office to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys who will be able to explain in more detail what your options may be and how our law office can assist you in the process.

For more information on the Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor, read the Court’s opinion released June 26th, 2013: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-307_6j37.pdf.

Read the full statement by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, released June 26th, 2013: http://www.dhs.gov/news/2013/06/26/statement-secretary-homeland-security-janet-napolitano-supreme-court-ruling-defense

Note: Foreign nationals seeking lawful status in the U.S. are subject to all immigration laws, and even with a lawfully recognized marriage, may be inadmissible or otherwise unable to obtain Permanent Residence in the U.S. on other grounds, such as certain criminal convictions or immigration violations. This is true of anyone seeking immigration benefits from the U.S. Government.

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Immigration reform to boost the economy and to create more jobs

I attach a link to an article I wrote for the Detroit Free Press published on Sunday February 3rd, 2013. It discusses the interaction between immigration reform, the economy and the creation of jobs. It is based on a short research paper I worked on last summer and presented within a group study of macroeconomic issues. It was based on research at reputable national universities showing that more immigration boosts the economy, increases jobs for local workers and actually adds to their income. While at first glance this argument might sound counterintuitive, it actually makes a lot of sense. Basically, scarcity of population never creates jobs: one does not look for work in uninhabited areas. On the contrary, the addition of new hard working population creates its own demand for products and services, and thus creates more jobs than it occupies. To read the article, please follow the link at

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Immigration and Economics

This post outlines some of the ways in which immigration results in a net gain for the U.S. economy.

Highly skilled immigrants improve productivity:  Highly-skilled immigrants often represent the very top achievers in their countries, and they arrive here with an extremely high level of education.  Their technological skills improve the productivity of the United States.

With their diverse skills, immigrants not only create a wider range of products, but also more jobs for complementary labor, while allowing comparative advantage benefits:  Many immigrants supply skills different from those already available, thereby increasing the supply of diverse labor and contributing to gains in efficiency. They enable the economy to produce a wider variety of goods than it would if the work force were limited. They also increase the demand for labor that complements their skills. It is said, for example, that new immigrant chefs increase the demand for waiters.  One study found that every high-skilled immigrant worker generates three to five supporting or complementary positions.  Society benefits because immigrants efficiently produce goods with low relative prices, allowing Americans to focus on the industries or occupations in which they have a comparative advantage.

Improved demographics: Our current immigration policies favor the young, the risk-takers, the hard-working, and the highly qualified.  Most immigrants are young and single or have young families. This alters U.S. demographics and increases the tax and social security base, supporting our aging population with younger workers who currently require no assistance.  In the long run, revenue generated through taxation of the younger immigrant population will help balance the U.S. budget and reduce the annual deficit and the overall debt without necessarily increasing tax rates.

Benefits from more business investments and trade: Many firms need foreign talent and, if unable to employ foreign workers here, will outsource the work. Keeping this work in the U.S. by admitting immigrant workers will retain investments and jobs in the U.S., create work for support staff, and keep money in the U.S. If trade in goods is advantageous, there is no reason why trade in labor is not advantageous as well, and there is little evidence of adverse cultural results.

Increase consumption: Immigrants need food, shelter, and other goods and services. They become part of the consuming public, adding to the overall consumption and GDP.

Even unskilled workers improve the economy: Unskilled workers allow industry to obtain reasonably-priced labor for work that many Americans are not willing to do or interested in doing. They also improve the supply of labor and generate goods and services at costs consumers can afford, while keeping inflation pressure down.

Studies confirm the benefits: Gauging the effect of immigration is difficult, since we cannot know for sure what might have happened had there been no immigration. Researchers have, however, compared states that accept more immigrants to those that do not, after making allowances for other variables.  In California, where the number of immigrant workers as compared to the entire working population increased by 10%, the average income per worker also increased by 2.6% in real terms over the same period.  Similar results were found in Texas and in New York. Throughout the U.S., and in the long term (defined as approximately ten years), for every inflow of immigrants equal to 1% of the working population, income increases by 0.26%.  Thus, between 1990 and 2006, when immigrants’ share of employment increased 11%, they caused a 2.86% real-wage increase for the average U.S. worker.

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