DOMA and Immigration: What Next?

Monday, April 04, 2011


President Obama’s decision to challenge the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) came as a shock to gay rights activists and conservative lawmakers alike. The full implications of this decision remain unclear, however, and gay immigrants have been on an emotional roller coaster as rights are granted one week and denied the next.

Obama directed the Department of Justice to stop enforcing DOMA in court on February 23, though the actual law still remains on the books. The resulting uncertainty about DOMA’s future immediately began to influence court cases. In what appears to be a groundbreaking decision, on March 22 an immigration judge in New York delayed deportation proceedings for a lesbian immigrant in light of the president’s announcement.

Argentine immigrant Monica Alcota married Cristina Ojeda – a U.S. citizen – last summer in Connecticut and would be directly affected by a DOMA repeal. Alcota has been at risk of being deported since overstaying her tourist visa and a 2009 encounter with immigration officers that led to three months in prison. Marriage to a U.S. citizen waives visa overstay violations for heterosexual couples, but as long as DOMA remains law, same-sex couples do not have the same rights.

After their hearing, the couple sounded excited and relieved.

“In a way [the judge] is recognizing our marriage as equal,” Alcota said. According to her attorney, Lavi Solloway, this is the first time a judge has ever made such a decision. “We feel even more hope now,” she said.

But last Wednesday, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) retracted an earlier statement, first reported in The Daily Beast, that they would stop denying green card applications from same-sex couples and put them on hold while awaiting legal guidance after the president’s decision on DOMA. Immediately, despite Tuesday’s small court victory, Cristina and Monica’s future became less certain.

[+ Read the whole article at Feet in Two Worlds]

This story was produced by Feet in Two Worldsa project at Milano The New School's Center for New York City AffairsFi2W is supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the Mertz Gilmore Foundation.


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Comments [2]

marcin from POLAND

Welcome to.
I am a polish citizen, I am 28 years old, my boyfriend is Brazilian and is 39 years.
My whole story started when I was 22 years, then in my life, all hell broke loose.
My best friend offered me the opportunity to earn good money in a short time, and such a miracle I came to prison in Brazil SAO PAULO, got sentences of 4 years for attempting to smuggle drugs.
After completing his sentence, was some time in Brazil and there I met a person in whom I fell in love
The fact he is 12 years old from me
is black, and is also HIV positive,
And although I do not have hiv, I love him and wants to live with him until the end.
2009 he was expelled from Brazil in accordance with the local law.
already at the beginning of 2010, my boyfriend came to Polish, and 3 months after the Immigration Service did not allow the extension of visas for longer stays.
Since we try to find for us a country where we could go, marry, and stay in this country forever.
But it is not so simple.
I asked a lot of foundation but we all just write off that they do not occupy such a case as ours.
we lost almost everything, because in total we have nothing
I am in poland, my boyfriend is
in Brazil, and so we want to be together and we can not.
I wrote to the embassies of countries in Europe where we can officially get married, but it turns out that we can not live in this country because my boyfriend did not get permission to reside in the European union countries without a visa, and get a visa or not,
last new idea was a trip to Canada, marriage, and asking the authorities for asylum in Canada
But to get to canada my boyfriend needs Vize, and we do not have to get it ..
I wrote a request to the great newspapers of the world, so maybe they could publish our request for help, but calm, nothing happened.
sometimes comes in my desire to leave this world, but I'm afraid. From this place I want to ask you for help
can you on your website you could publish our request for assistance, you may find someone who could help us.
really ask you for help.
My email address is
telephone 0048 889144114

Jul. 23 2011 02:25 AM
NotSoFast from NYC

Mr. Diaz,

You wrote, "Obama directed the Department of Justice to stop enforcing DOMA in court on February 23...."

This is incorrect. DOJ announced that it would no longer DEFEND DOMA in court, while continuing to ENFORCE the law until it was overturned by the courts or repealed by Congress. This is a perfectly straightforward statement, clear to anyone who understands how the law works. If you find it confusing, then you shouldn't be writing about this subject.

Apr. 06 2011 06:27 PM

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