The U.S. has dropped deportation proceedings against Henry Velandia in what is being seen as a significant victory for married same-sex binational couples who face being torn apart due to unjust immigration laws.
Immigration lawyers and gay rights advocates said the decision represented a significant shift in policy and could open the door to the cancellation of deportations for other immigrants in same-sex marriages.
“This action shows that the government has not only the power but the inclination to do the right thing when it comes to protecting certain vulnerable populations from deportation,” said the couple’s lawyer, Lavi Soloway…
…The judge granted the motion to close the case on June 13, and Mr. Soloway received an official copy of the order on Wednesday.
The decision to cancel the deportation came as federal immigration officials were thoroughly reviewing their deportation policies.
Said Soloway, of Stop the Deportations, in a press release:
“This historic decision by the government to close deportation proceedings against Henry Velandia allows him to stay in the United States with his American husband, Josh Vandiver, without the fear that they will be torn apart. This unprecedented move will save Josh and Henry’s marriage and end the threat of deportation, while Josh continues to fight for his right to sponsor Henry for a green card based on their marriage and the fate of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is resolved by Congress or the Supreme Court.
“For the first time the Department of Homeland Security has demonstrated that when it comes to the spouses of lesbian and gay Americans the government does indeed have the discretion necessary to evaluate the merits of each case and, where appropriate, to decline to pursue deportation. Importantly, it is proof that we can bring about positive change by telling our stories and educating the general public, elected officials and executive branch agencies about the cruel impact of DOMA on the daily lives of married binational lesbian and gay couples. This decision will lay the foundation for administrative closure of other other deportation cases involving gay and lesbian couples. Stop The Deportations – DOMA Project campaign will continue to fight for every binational couple facing deportation. Even so, we will also continue to urge the Obama administration to institute an immediate moratorium on all deportations of spouses of lesbian and gay Americans. In the end, we must defeat DOMA so that all married couples are equal under federal law.”
(image jonathan ystad)