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Immigration Judge Puts Deportation of Undocumented Married Spouse On Hold

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alfonso garciaA positive development in the deportation case of Alfonso Garcia. He’s undocumented — and he’s married to a US citizen. But the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex benefits, complicates the situation because Alfonso is married to Brian Willingham.  A federal immigration judge has put his deportation on hold.

From CNN:

A federal immigration court judge in San Francisco put a deportation proceeding on hold Friday for a gay California man who is an undocumented immigrant and married to a man who is a U.S. citizen, the couple’s attorney said.

Alfonso Garcia, 35, who came to the United States as a boy with his parents, and his husband, Brian Willingham, 37, are petitioning the federal immigration service for legal residency based on their marriage, said attorney Lavi Soloway.

The judge put Garcia’s deportation proceeding on hold while Garcia’s legal residency, or green card, application is being processed, Soloway said.

The next immigration court hearing is October 27, the attorney said.

The couple lawfully married in New York and are registered domestic partners in California living in the San Francisco Bay area, but the federal immigration court doesn’t recognize gay marriage under the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between opposite sex couples, Soloway said.

The Obama administration has stopped defending DOMA, viewing it as unconstitutional. Hopefully, that legal impediment will soon be gone. 

As we are seeing in the case of Jaime Martinez Espinal, even marriages that aren’t impacted by DOMA are subject to the harsh immigration system. ICE tore him apart from his US citizen wife and four children. More on Jaime’s case here.