Married Lesbian Couple To Argue Against Deportation Proceedings Using Obama Administration’s New Position On DOMA

On Tuesday, using the President Obama's recent decision to no loner defend the constitutionality of DOMA as their main argument, Monica Alcota and her wife, Cristina Ojeda, will stand in front of an immigration judge in New York and request that deportation charges against Alcota be dropped and she be issued a green card. The group Stop The Deportations has issued the following announcement about the case:

"This is the first time a married same-sex couple will appear in court to seek termination of such proceedings since the Obama administration reversed its position on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on February 23, calling it unconstitutional and announcing that it would not defend DOMA in pending and future federal court challenges."

Deport "Cristina Ojeda and Monica Alcota have been together since July 2008 and live in Queens, New York. In August 2010 they married in Connecticut. Cristina filed a marriage-based alien relative petition on behalf of Monica in September 2010. That petition is currently pending before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  Alcota came to the United States in October 2000. She is a law-abiding, hard-working and talented antiques restorer and devoted, loving wife to Cristina."

"The couple's lawyer, Lavi Soloway, will argue that removal proceedings should be terminated consistent with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's long-standing policy of prosecutorial discretion which favors family unification and the accommodation of sympathetic humanitarian circumstances. ICE and the Court should consider the rapidly changing landscape of DOMA. That changing landscape includes the Obama administration's new position on DOMA which is expected to dramatically alter the course of future litigation against DOMA, but it also includes other significant developments."

Ojeda defends her wife on the Stop The Deportations website: "Monica left Argentina because of homophobia and intolerance that forced her to flee in fear of her personal safety. More than 10 years later, she is again in a fight for her life and her love. As an American I believe my government should recognize our marriage and give Monica a green card. Too many couples have suffered like us for too long. The deportations and separations have to end."


  1. Dan says

    The deportations angle is the most dramatic and best to pursue in our efforts to change American minds about the subject. I can understand people shrugging when you say you don’t get this or that monetary benefit (not that I agree) but forcible separation through deportation is outrageous.

    DOMA is just so wrong on so many levels. It doesn’t get more brutal than deportation.

  2. Ville says

    As a foreign half of a gay bi-national couple who is here legally on a student visa, I understand their struggle to be together. However,I wish the political asylum argument should be dropped by now. She is not from Uganda or the Middle East. She’s from Argentina which has marriage equality NOW. She may have left Argentina 10 years ago because of discrimination, but to argue that she is fighting for her life due to fear of personal safety if she is deported is disingenuous. They need to stay on the argument of the rights for an American citizen to sponsor their spouse for permanent residency and family unification.

  3. jayba says

    I agree with Ville. While I don’t agree with loving couples being seperated, I don’t believe that she left 10 years ago for fear of persecution for being gay. So many Argentines illegally emigrated following the Argentine economic crisis in 2001 and before we ended their visa waiver privilege in early 2002. I think she was motivated by the same factors as all the other Argentines who left Argentina then. I sympathize with this couple and would like to see her be allowed to stay, but she was illegally present in the US for 8 years before she met her wife. And for the record, even if she were in a heterosexual marriage, she’d still be subject to deportation under US law and would face a 10 year bar on re-entry. Yes, a married couple could ask for a waiver from DHS but those are based on the hardship to the US citizen spouse and they aren’t granted in all cases.

  4. David N says

    @Ville: I think the woman’s point about her wife having already left Argentina because of homophobia ten years ago was to say that it was unjust — regardless of whether things have changed since then in Argentina.  I think she was trying to emphasize that deporting her from the United States, despite her legal marriage to a U.S. citizen, is doubly unjust.  I can understand why she characterized that as a fight for “her life and her love”.  Her life is now here with her wife.  As far as asylum, I don’t think any of us should judge one woman’s fear of being sent back to Argentina without knowing the specific facts of her case.  We might do better to be more respectful of each binational couple’s specific experience. These women are brave to stand up for themselves and insist on being treated equally and the full reality of their fears and concerns should be respected. 
    @Jayba: If she had been in a heterosexual marriage, she would be eligible for a green card in the US with no ten year bar, no need for a waiver and she would not have ever been put into proceedings. How do you know what happened to her in Argentina before she came to the US? Without facts, none of us should be so dismissive.

  5. ryanb says

    The immigration issue is the most important and potentially far reaching test of the Obama administrations resolve to end DOMA and permit legal equality for LGBT couples.

    There can’t be a more obvious example of the blatant inequality between straight and gay legal unions. I wish they weren’t citing the asylum issue either – their case is strong enough on its merits.

  6. FAEN says

    As part of a binational couple this issue cannot be solved quickly enough. It is inhuman and unjust to ask American citizens to choose between the country they love or the man/woman they love.

  7. Ville says

    Thanks David for your comment. I apologize if I I sound dismissive. Their fight against the section 3 of DOMA is laudable, and I’m fully in support of their courage to publicize their case. And it seems their lawyer is petitioning this case as a DOMA issue.

    My point is the media coverage on immigration equality tends to frame the foreign spouse/partner as someone who has fled their country for fear of persecution. An example is an American-Indonesian gay couple that was on the news last month. They were also trying to make a case that the Indonesian guy would be persecuted if he was to be deported. There are a few ramifications when statement like this is made. First, readers will stigmatize those countries (Indonesia and Argentina) as homophobic, intolerant and unsafe. I understand that not all areas in Indonesia and Argentina are gay-friendly and their safety could really be in jeopardy, depending on the exact location they have to go back to. But like I said, statement like this paint those countries in a negative light and the reality may not be the case. Second, it encourages fraud. LGBT bi-national couples who are desperate to stay together will try to falsely build a case that the foreign partner needs an asylum. Once you get an asylum visa, it may not be possible to travel back to their country as their asylum status could be terminated as fraud. Then the 10-year bar can kick in.

    The reason why asylum is often mentioned is because it is the only legal option for the foreign partners to stay in the US, if they have overstayed their tourist or student visa and couldn’t find an employer willing to sponsor a work permit.

    Now that a strong immigration equality case can be made against DOMA, it really should stay on that. This case is about how bi-national gay couples are being torn apart because the federal government discriminates gay Americans by not recognizing their marriage and their rights to sponsor the foreign spouse to stay in the US with them. I just thought asylum-related content can be left out since the case is not filed as an asylum seeking case. The media reports it simply to gain readers’ sympathy for the couple, which is fine as long as it is the truth. For responsible reporting, the journalist needs to show evidence that the asylum is real, like Sheri Tan’s case in which she has medical documents that claim she survived the gun shot by her cousin (who also murdered her family) and fears for her life if she gets deported to the Philippines. Note that Sheri Tan was denied asylum visa as well because the case was not strong enough. To meet asylum requirements, you must be severely persecuted, e.g. the government will put you in jail if you are gay or you are fleeing from wars and conflicts.

  8. chris says

    My heart goes out to the girls. They are trying to stay together and the American government refuses to grant them the same rights they easily give to straights. My situation is the same. I am American, my partner of many years is Brazilian. if either one of us were female, I could request to sponsor him/her and it would be done within 4 months. Since both of us are male it is always refused. Gays are being discriminated against so badly. Within 2 months we will have to relocate back to Brazil in order to be together. USA immigration is so unfair.

  9. FAEN says

    @ Chris

    I’m sorry you guys have to move but you guys are a few of the lucky ones-in my partners country, being gay is still illegal in most parts ergo we have nowhere to go.

    Enjoy your lives in Brazil and stay strong-won’t be long now before you guys can move back. If you want to that is.

  10. ratbastard says

    I hope this couple get to stay together in America. That said:

    Read, watch, listen to American and world media, EVERYBODY hates the U.S. and Americans. We [Americans] are blamed by [Latin Americans, etc.,] for everything that’s wrong with their lives, their country, etc., Yet try and control our OUT-OF-CONTROL immigration, try and deport anyone [regardless if it’s adjudicated and legally legitimate] and these same people FREAK OUT. NO ONE wants to be deported from the U.S. Millions are trying to get into the U.S. legally and illegally. Yet, we [Americans] are mocked as ‘Stupid’ racist , warmongering hicks by MANY Europeans and Brits, and disliked [hated] by many Latin Americans and others.

  11. FAEN says

    @ Ratbastard

    I don’t understand what your rant was about. Binational gay couples should have the same rights as binational straight couples. Nothing more, nothing less.

  12. ratbastard says

    Fake binational couples is a big business. Many will do anything to get to perm. stay in the U.S. or better still get fast-tracked citizenship.