A gay man originally from Costa Rica has been spared deportation from the US by a Houston immigration judge based partly on his marriage to another man.
A gay Costa Rican immigrant has been spared from deportation by a Houston immigration judge based in large part on his marriage to a U.S. citizen, the immigrant’s attorney said.
Judge Richard Walton on Thursday administratively closed the deportation case against David Gonzalez, an accountant who married a U.S. citizen in California in 2008, said John Nechman, his attorney.
Immigrant and gay advocates heralded the case as the first in Texas to end in a reprieve based in large part on a same-sex marriage to a U.S. citizen.
“It’s great news,” said Steve Ralls, a spokesman for Immigration Equality, which advocates for equality under U.S. immigration law for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. “It’s consistent with similar actions we are seeing in other cases with lesbian and gay couples.”
Gonzalez met Mario Ramirez, a U.S. born citizen, more than six years ago and the couple married in Los Angeles in 2008 during the brief period when same-sex marriage was legal.
They subsequently bought a house in Humble, Texas, and are reportedly planning on adopting children.
The federal Defense of Marriage Act bans the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. This means that even if a same-sex couple are married and the applicants fulfill all other terms needed for a marriage based residency, they will likely still be refused one.
The Obama administration announced back in August that it would be implementing a new case-by-case review process so that the administration could determine which cases are high priority and which are low priority and pursue them accordingly. Obviously for same-sex couples who have followed immigration rules closely and would otherwise qualify for spousal sponsorship, this could save them from being separated.
This action served to build on a June 17 memo from the administration that spelled out immigration officials have discretionary powers to assess which cases they feel to be a priority — this order was not explicitly LGBT inclusive, so the administration’s later statement affirming LGBT inclusion is of considerable importance.
However, this does not spare them the financial and emotional burden of having to go through court proceedings, and specifically in Gonzalez’s case, while he is no longer a priority for deportation, he remains disadvantaged by the fact that he still has no legal right to work in the United States.