Victory for Monica & Cristina! Government Closes Deportation Case Against Married Lesbian Couple in
For the first time since the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) November 17 announcement that a national “working group” had begun reviewing all cases currently pending in immigration courts, Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) has closed a deportation case involving a married same-sex couple.
Although the latest DHS “prosecutorial discretion” guidance still did not explicity include LGBT families, advocates at Stop the Deportations say that the decision by ICE demonstrates that existing criteria can be properly applied to keep married gay and lesbian couples safe from deportation.
Immigration Judge Terry Bain granted a Joint Motion to Administratively Close Removal Proceedings against Argentinean born lesbian, Monica Alcota, because “good cause has been established.” Judge Bain’s decision was dated November 30, and was received yesterday, just one day before Monica Alcota was due back in court for a final deportation hearing. Monica Alcota’s lawyer, Lavi Soloway, submitted the request for Administrative Closure to ICE Chief Counsel in Manhattan on November 14. The request was based on her marriage to her U.S. citizen spouse, Cristina Ojeda; her deep roots in the community in which she lives and works; her activism against DOMA; and the absence of any adverse factors, i.e. that Monica Alcota is a hard-working, law-abiding person who is not a danger to the public safety or national security.
For most lesbian and gay Americans with foreign-born spouses the only obstacle to a “green card” is the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act,” (DOMA) the law that prevents the federal government from recognizing the legal marriages of lesbian and gay couples.