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Federal immigration judge halts deportation case of same-sex spouse

Friday, May 6, 2011
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A federal immigration judge on Friday halted the deportation of Henry Velandia, a Venezuelan native who married U.S. citizen Josh Vandiver in Connecticut last year.

Josh Vandiver (left) and Henry Velandia

Judge Alberto Riefkohl granted an adjournment of the case Friday in a Newark immigration court.

The ruling comes just one day after Attorney General Eric Holder set aside a Board of Immigration Appeals ruling in a similar case involving another same-sex couple, reported Chris Geidner at Metro Weekly.

The first reason that [the judge] granted an adjournment was that the I-130 petition filed by Josh for Henry was still pending and he felt that it was appropriate to let the U.S. CIS to adjudicate that petition, and that it would be inappropriate to move forward until that happened.

The second reason the judge cited was Holder’s May 5 decision to vacate a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals related to the application of Paul Wilson Dorman, in which the BIA had applied Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act to his pending case.

As a result of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Velandia is ineligible for a spouse visa and was scheduled to be deported unless the courts rule on the unconstitutionality of DOMA or a bill passes in Congress challenging DOMA.

Velandia will have to appear in court again on Dec. 16, but in the interim can remain in the U.S.

“It’s the best outcome that we could have hoped for,” said gay rights lawyer Lavi Soloway, who added that the law could change by December.

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