As Many As 40,000 Same-Sex Couples Could Benefit If U.S. Immigration Law Treated Same-Sex And Different-Sex Couples Alike
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AS MANY AS 40,000 SAME-SEX COUPLES COULD BENEFIT IF U.S. IMMIGRATION LAW TREATED SAME-SEX AND DIFFERENT-SEX COUPLES ALIKE
THESE COUPLES ARE RAISING NEARLY 25,000 CHILDREN
LOS ANGELES, CA – November 4, 2011 – A new Williams Institute study finds there are an estimated 28,500 binational same-sex couples in which one partner is a U.S. citizen and one is not, and nearly 11,500 same-sex couples in which neither partner is a U.S. citizen. “None of these 40,000 couples are eligible to use the immigration preferences available to different-sex spouses,” says Williams Distinguished Scholar and the study’s co-author Gary Gates.
Under U.S. immigration policy, a citizen may obtain permanent residence for their non-citizen, different-sex spouse, and expedited citizenship for a resident, different-sex spouse. Permanent residents may also petition for permanent resident status for their different-sex spouses. However, these options are not extended to same-sex couples, even if they are married or are in civil unions or registered domestic partnerships.
The study uses data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) to provide a demographic profile of the 79,200 same-sex couples in the U.S. in which at least one partner is either not a U.S citizen or is a naturalized citizen. The report breaks this population into 3 groups and finds there are an estimated 28,574 binational same-sex couples, 11,442 dual non-citizen same-sex couples and 39,176 dual citizen same-sex couples with at least one naturalized partner.
“Our findings show that same-sex binational couples are present in all parts of the country and represent a diverse group of individuals from around the world,” Gates. Among the 28,000 bi-national couples, over 7,100 live in California, which is more than any other state. The countries most represented among these couples are Mexico (25%), Canada (8%), and the United Kingdom (6%).
Among noncitizens in binational couples, 45% are Latino/a, 36% are White, and 14% are Asian/Pacific Islander. Among citizens in binational couples, 54% are White, 33% are Latino/a, and 7% are Asian/Pacific Islander. African-Americans comprise 3% of both groups.
In addition, 35% of male binational couples and 39% of female binational couples are raising more than 17,000 children. Substantially more than half of dual non-citizen couples (58%) are raising an estimated 7,700 children. While citizens in binational same-sex couples have higher median income levels than their non-citizen partners, non-citizens have lower rates of unemployment at just 2% compared to nearly 8% for citizens.
The Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy advances law and public policy through rigorous, independent research and scholarship, and disseminates its work through a variety of education programs and media to judges, legislators, lawyers, other policy makers, and the public. For more information, please visit www.law.ucla.edu/williamsinstitute.