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Williams Institute Releases New Data on LGBT Immigrant Families

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:

Gary Gates, Williams Distinguished Scholar, 310-825-1868, gates@law.ucla.edu
Cathy Renna, 917-757-6123, cathy@rennacommunications.com

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 18, 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.

For the full report, click here.

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.

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