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Immigration Chief Counsel halts DOMA-related deportation of Henry Velandia

DOMA trials

By Adam Bink

I may have missed this if it was noticed in the comments — apologies if it has been — but catching up after a busy day with this tremendous news. The Immigration Chief Counsel in Newark, NJ decided to halt the DOMA-related deportation of Henry Velandia, whose case many of us here at P8TT and Courage Campaign took up with our friends at AllOut, Stop the Deportations, and many other allies. More background can be found here.

Here’s Josh, his husband, speaking to CNN (bolding mine):

Q: Do you have any idea why the government had a change of heart?

There’s no doubt in my mind that it is the direct result of our hard-fought advocacy over the past year on behalf of our marriage.  We stood up and told our story: that as a same-sex married couple our marriage is not treated equally.

Because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), I am denied the right to sponsor my foreign-born spouse, Henry, for a green card.  The reason I’m denied this is because we’re gay.  A non-gay couple would never face a deportation like this.

We would simply like our marriage to be treated equally.  We have worked tirelessly to spread the word about this law, DOMA, and how it is tearing apart our family and the families of bi-national same-sex married couples around the country.

Thankfully Attorney General Holder said earlier this year that DOMA is unconstitutional and discriminatory.  But the deportations had continued after Holder’s decision.  That’s why we kept the pressure on the administration and ICE to stop these deportations.


Our elected officials joined our cause in part because 20,000 people signed our petition to Secretary Janet Napolitano of Homeland Security asking her to stop deporting the spouses of LGBT Americans.   And we’ve been joined by some great organizational partners in the struggle for equality including AllOut, GetEQUAL, the Courage Campaign, Marriage Equality USA, and Freedom to Marry.

I think that’s absolutely right. Tens of thousands of Courage members joined other activists around the country to (a) raise awareness of this case and generated press (b) keep the pressure on the Administration. It led to an “extraordinary”, as it was described, decision by Attorney General Holder to vacate the Board of Immigration Appeals’ decision in the case, for the judge to hear the case again, and for this decision to come down this week.

When we take a stand, things really do happen. A big first step, and hopefully more couples will find the same experience.


  • 1. Ann S.  |  June 30, 2011 at 4:24 pm


  • 2. Alan_Eckert  |  June 30, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Good news indeed!

  • 3. PBJ  |  June 30, 2011 at 4:34 pm

  • 4. Michguy  |  June 30, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    Do you have links to the request for appeal ?? The request made by the government that is ??

  • 5. PBJ  |  July 1, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Yes, but the site won't let me post them for some reason.

  • 6. PBJ  |  July 1, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    There are others that are less interesting, but perhaps posting all the links raises some red flags with this site's spam filter?

  • 7. Ronnie  |  June 30, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Mom & I met Josh & Henry when we did the photo shoot at Liberty State Park for them with the Statue of Liberty in the background. We were also at the rally in Newark the day of what was supposed to be their last immigration hearing when they received a reprieve until December due to Attorney General Holder's decision about DOMA. This is awesome news. They are a great couple & I am really happy for them & for all bi-national couples… I said earlier today… all bi-national couples, the time is coming….the time is coming when LGBT bi-national couples in LEGAL marriages will be treated equally to Straight bi-national couples who are married.


  • 8. Gregory in SLC  |  June 30, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Some of the very best news possible for me and my husband! thanks for extended post Adam…and thank you Ronnie for posting this earlier.

  • 9. Ronnie  |  June 30, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    You're welcome………. ; ) …Ronnie

  • 10. AnonyGrl  |  July 1, 2011 at 6:49 am

    Your husband… yay! 🙂

  • 11. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  July 1, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Love seeing you say 'husband' Gregory 🙂
    Congrates again!!!!!

  • 12. Ronnie  |  June 30, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Like I said earlier today…..Congratulations to Josh & Henry, their lawyer Lavi Soloway & to all bi-national couples…..the time is coming when LGBT bi-national couples who are LEGALLY married will be treated equally to Straight bi-national couples who are married.

    STOP THE DEPORTATIONS!!!!…..EQUALITY NOW!!!….. : ) …Ronnie

  • 13. Sagesse  |  June 30, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    It occurs to me that a constitutional challenge to DOMA around bankruptcy protection or immigration (and maybe some other federal laws) would stand a very good chance because of the disproportionate consequences when equal protection and due process are denied.

  • 14. Michguy  |  June 30, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Just because the deportations are haulted does not mean that the the person will get legal status or residency (LPR Card). They still do not qualify for Legal status and as a result they will still be considered to be illegal aliens subject to possible deportation in the future at the discretion of DHS (Homeland Security).

    Thsi does nothing to fix the actual problem. All it does is leave the person in legal limbo now. Plain and simple. It does not say that they will be granted resident status, citizenship or any other lawful status in the U.S. as such authority does not exist because DOMA bars it so the people will sill be here with NO STATUS at all and will still not be able to get benefits and other accomodations that law residents and citizens qualify for.

    I noticed you seemd to think that these people were getting some sort of legal status as a result of DHS deciding to NOT deport them and if that is your assumption I think you wrong to assume that.

  • 15. Waxr  |  June 30, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Nobody here was making that assumption. For the time being Henry Velandia is here legally with his husband until the DOMA situation is settled by the Supreme Court or it is repealed by Congress.

  • 16. Michguy  |  June 30, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    You have made that assumption as evidenced when you state "is here legally". You are not correct when saying that the person in this case is in the U.S. legally. You cannot be present in the U.S. unless you have been lawfully granted either of the three designations as follows; nonimmigrant status, immigrant status, citizenship.

    If you do not have one of those status then you are not legally considered to be present in the U.S. legally and as a result you are legally considered to be a illegal immigrant/undocuments alien or whatever you please to call it.
    I am not saying that I support DOMA because a gay male I do not support DOMA. But as a Immigration Officer myself I know legal designations regaqrding immigration matters. And I am certain that you are incorret when you state that this person is here legally as a result of the government refusing to Deport them.

  • 17. Michguy  |  June 30, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    The government refuses to and or fails to deport thousands of non-citizens every year. When this happens those people don’t automatically get lawful status. Some of them simly renmain in the U.S. without lawful status. Being present in the U.S. without lawful status means the same thing as being in the U.S. illegally. They mean the same thing. In this case all we have is the government making a decision to NOT deport the alien in question. The government is not making any decision on granting any type of lawful status to the alien in this case because DOMA still bars the government from doing so, so as a result the same sex spouse in this case will still be present in the use illegally but the government will just not move forward with deportation proceeding TODAY but may decide in the future to proceed with deportation.

    I just don’t want you or others to get the impression that this person is hot of trouble or to think that this person was granted lawful status as a result of this decision. The government’s inaction to deport them does not change the fact that they are still legally classified as illegal immigrants with NO lawful status.

  • 18. Waxr  |  July 1, 2011 at 1:18 am

    Whether a person is in this country legally or illegally is the decision of the Immigration Court. On May 6, an immigration judge temporarily halted Velendia’s deportation. Then on June 29, Immigration Court closed Velandia’s deportation proceedings. To my way of thinking, if the Immigration Court says he can stay, then Velendia is here legally.

  • 19. Michguy  |  July 1, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Again you misunderstand. The immigration court never rendered a decision about the lawful status of the person in question. And the government is the one who requested that the court terminate deportation proceedings. In immigration courts the immigration judges have no legal authority to move forward with a deportation proceeding without the government permission. The only reason the court haulted the proceeding is because the government told the court to not move forward with proceedings. The court never rendered a decision on granting lawful status to the person because a court can only make that decision AFTER a deportation proceeding has been initiated and gone through a full and final proceeding which in this case that was not done.

  • 20. Ann S.  |  July 1, 2011 at 8:22 am

    I don't know much about immigration law, but I think Michguy has a good point. Halting deportation proceedings is a far cry from getting a green card or legal permanent residency.

  • 21. Waxr  |  July 1, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Henry Velandia does not have a green card, or permanent residency, but the court said that he may remain in the US until Congress or the courts act on DOMA. It's sort of like a person who is out on bail, legally he is a free man. As I said before, "for the time being Henry Velandia is here legally."

  • 22. Jonny Z  |  July 1, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Actually, I think you're both pretty!! 🙂 Seriously, though, I think you're both right, since I believe you're talking about two different uses of the word "legal." IMHO, it would seem that although Velandia "officially" would be classified as "illegal", in terms of his status, he has also "officially" been given "legal permission" to stay (at least for now). So, he is legally here since the court ruled he could stay here. But, he's not "legal" in the sense of having all the rights a legal person has, however, so there is that difference.

  • 23. Gregory in SLC  |  June 30, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Every baby step is appreciated….and celebrated!

  • 24. Sagesse  |  July 1, 2011 at 4:12 am

    A testimony.

    Little Pink Lies

  • 25. Sagesse  |  July 1, 2011 at 4:22 am

    And miles to go…

    Love and Exile

  • 26. Sagesse  |  July 1, 2011 at 4:31 am

    Fewer miles to go, but the job's not done yet.

    Can New York Republican Senators Count on Gay Support?

  • 27. Chris in Lathrop  |  July 1, 2011 at 5:02 am

    Congratulations to Henry and Josh!!! I hope other pending deportation cases get the same treatment as DOMA is herded out the door! 🙂

  • 28. Sagesse  |  July 1, 2011 at 5:07 am

    Boggles the mind to think of this couple in the White House.

    Bachmanns: Gays in Bondage, Need Discipline

  • 29. justjoel59  |  July 1, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Bondage? Discipline? Thanks, but I went through that phase, I'm done with it now (except for the occasional fantasy with my husband (sorry if that's TMI).

    Seriously, does Ms. Bachmann realize how ludicrous she sounds?

  • 30. Sagesse  |  July 1, 2011 at 5:30 am

    The religious exemptions in the RI civil unions bill are a poison pill if ever there was one. Try as I may, I cannot imagine the political machinations that have led to this travesty in a state where people support marriage equality.

    Rhode Island civil union bill passes, but pleases no one

  • 31. Sagesse  |  July 1, 2011 at 5:48 am

    From the Williams Institute this week

    New Census 2010 Snapshot Reports
    for Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Nebraska, North Carolina

  • 32. AnonyGrl  |  July 1, 2011 at 7:40 am

    Part 1

    I keep thinking back to how far we have come in my lifetime. Can you imagine these statistics 45 years ago? Would 8% of the population have felt they could say they were living as a same sex couple? Would 20% of the same sex couples have been allowed to raise children as they are now doing?

    And today, we are closer than ever to being "just folks." When I see two moms or two dads and their children, I find it so very heartening that people around them don't stare or flinch… they are just a family.

  • 33. Ronnie  |  July 1, 2011 at 7:20 am

    Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona, players Kevin Youkilis & Jason Varitek along with staff & Boston Red Sox fans say "It Gets Better"…… : ) …Ronnie:

    [youtube EOkWfueTNjk youtube]

  • 34. Kate  |  July 1, 2011 at 7:48 am

    AnonyGrl for President in 2012!!!!!

  • 35. AnonyGrl  |  July 1, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Thank you, thank you… I love kissing hands and shaking babies!

    And smooching Kate! Smooch!

  • 36. Edward  |  July 1, 2011 at 8:25 am

    OT, (off topic, not old testament… LOL)
    Bad news for NOM…..

  • 37. Franck  |  July 1, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    I heard about this as soon as it happened. Yes, good news, but to me this still looked to much like a happy roll of a dice… We'll see if they follow the same rules for other currently threatened couples.

    – Franck P. Rabeson
    Days spent apart from my fiancé because of DOMA: 1470 days, as of today.

  • 38. Radioactive  |  July 1, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Hit Faux News this morning, the comments are … insane.

    I'm very mixed on this case. My boyfriend of 3 years is in Germany, and while we see each other every 6 weeks or so, we've done everything to make sure he stays in legal status with the US, in the hopes that he'll be able to come here legally.

    This case is completely different, while I feel sympathy for these guys, they knowingly broke the law by overstaying a tourist visa. Why should he get a break, when I can't, as a law-abiding citizen?

  • 39. Prop 8 Trial Tracker &raq&hellip  |  July 7, 2011 at 8:28 am

    […] up on last week’s post regarding deportation under DOMA being halted in the case of Henry and Josh, here’s a nice […]

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