hat tip to John A over at Americablog
Bi-National Lesbian Couple Can Press US Marriage Claim
It what appears to be the first such action of its type, an Immigration Judge in Manhattan has adjourned deportation proceedings for the Argentine lesbian spouse of an American citizen to allow the couple to proceed with their application to have their marriage recognized for purposes of federal immigration law.
Monica Alcota, 35, who came to the US a decade ago, married her partner of nearly three years, 25-year-old Cristina Ojeda, last August in Connecticut.
The couple’s attorneys, Lavi Soloway and Noemi Masliah, argue that their clients’ marital status should qualify Alcota for permanent residency, as would be the case with any different-sex couple.
A 2010 US court ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act’s denial of federal recognition for legal same-sex marriages, they say –– coupled with the Justice Department’s recent decision that it could not and would not defend DOMA’s constitutionality on that point –– opens up the real possibility that Alcota and Ojeda may be accorded recognition.
In a March 22 hearing in the US courthouse at 26 Federal Plaza in Lower Manhattan, Immigration Judge Terry A. Bain gave the couple the go-ahead to press their claim with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) –– a unit of the Department of Homeland Security –– through what is known as Form I-130, a petition to have Alcota recognized as “the spouse of USC.”
For now, the couple’s case has been adjourned until December, a decision supported by the government's attorney.
“It is almost impossible to overstate the significance of what happened in there,” Soloway said immediately after the hearing. “An adjournment based on an I-130. It would never have happened a year ago. I don’t think I even would have filed it.”
Describing the development as “huge,” Soloway also credited Bain with being “very kind, very generous” in her handling of the case.