Monday, June 17, 2024

Recent Deportation Ruling brings Hope to Same-sex Couples facing Separation

News of the decision by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to halt the deportation of a man in a civil union is simultaneously drawing the spotlight on two hot button issues, immigration reform and the Defense of Marriage Act, and offering hope to same-sex couples threatened with separation.

The Gay immigration rights movement is often overshadowed by the larger and separate immigration reform and gay rights movements, but cases of bi-national same-sex couples threatened with deportation are shining the light on areas where the two issues intersect.

On Thursday, Holder’s April 26 decision to reassess the deportation of New Jersey resident Paul Wilson Dorman, who is in a civil union with his partner, was made public, and came as welcome news to Josh Vandiver and Henry Velandia, just a day before Velandia is set to appear before an immigration judge to learn his own fate.

“In the exercise of my review authority under that regulation, and upon consideration of the record in this case, I direct that the order of the Board be vacated and that this matter be remanded to the Board to make such findings as may be necessary to determine whether and how the constitutionality of DOMA is presented in this case,” Holder stated in his decision.

The very same law now threatens to separate the couple, which legally married in Connecticut last year.  As in Dorman’s case, the government denied Velandia’s I-130 marriage-based green card application based on DOMA, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing marriages between same-sex couples.

Velandia is a foreign national from Venezuela and his previous application for a permanent visa on the basis of owning and operating his own business, was also denied.

The overall effect that Holder’s decision may have on the issues of immigration reform and same sex marriage remains unclear, but it could mean a better outcome for the Vandiver and Velandia as they head into Velandia’s immigration hearing on Friday.

“I think it’s a positive sign that the attorney general himself decided to intervene to take this step,” Steve Ralls, spokesperson for Immigration Equality, said. “We’re hopeful that it will then be replicated in other cases for couples who are facing separation, but I think it’s a little too early to know for sure that’s going to be the case.”