Bradford Wells breathed a sigh of relief this week following the news that his Australian-native spouse, Anthony Makk, won’t be forced to leave the United States anytime soon.
“I’m absolutely elated,” Wells said. “The pressing issue of my family being destroyed has been dealt with for the time being.”
On Wednesday, Wells, 56, received a letter from U.S. Customs & Immigration Services that potential deportation action on Makk, 49, won’t happen for at least two years.
Wells said he received the news while watching the Republican presidential candidates on television and feeling discouraged by their anti-gay rhetoric when he received an unexpected phone call.
“It was Nancy Pelosi calling,” Wells said. “She called to tell me that the problem had been solved and Anthony had been given deferred action and that my family would be together. The deferred action was good for two years. That gave me such a feeling of joy and relief.”
Wells and Makk met with House Minority Leader Pelosi (D-Calif.) to discuss their situation in D.C. during an October meeting, according to The Advocate.
Makk said he was “over the moon happy” upon hearing about the deferred action because it means his efforts to stay in the United States haven’t been in vain.
“To be able to remain here legally has been important to us, and it always has been,” Makk said. “The fact that they don’t grant this [deferred action] to many people at all makes this even more special.”
Under current immigration law, straight Americans can sponsor their foreign spouses for residency in the United States through a marriage-based green card application, but the same option isn’t available to gay bi-national couples because the Defense of Marriage Act prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage.
Consequently, foreign nationals in same-sex marriages could be deported if they’re undocumented or upon the expiration of their green cards. Makk was in the United States from 2000 to 2010 under a business visa, but after his company shut down, he lost his visa status and faced separation from the country.
For Wells, the prospect of being separated from his spouse was distressing because he has AIDS and depends on his spouse for care.