It is a decision that New Jersey immigration lawyers believe will have an impact on cases involving same-sex married couples in the future: Immigration officials last week called off deportation proceedings against a Venezuelan man who has been legally married to a New Jersey man.
The man, Henry Velandia, is a salsa dancer from Venezuela who came to the United States about 10 years ago. Here, he met and married Josh Vandiver. It was a legal wedding that took place in Connecticut, a state which recognizes same-sex marriages. In 2009, Velandia applied for a green card but was rejected because it was a homosexual union, which did not allow Vandiver to sponsor Velandia. The feds based their decision on the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 federal law that laid down the basis of marriage as a union between a man and woman.
Soon after, Velandia’s visa expired and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials kicked off deportation proceedings against him. Those proceedings have now been called off. However, he has not yet been given a green card.
The Defense of Marriage Act Has been controversial, because Pres. Barack Obama has clearly stated that the executive branch does not support the enforcement of the Defense of Marriage Act. But New Jersey immigration lawyers often find that federal agencies continue to enforce it. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the law continues to remain in effect, and the agency will continue to enforce it unless it is repealed or there is a judicial decision saying that it is unconstitutional.
According to a UCLA study, there are approximately 36,000 gay and lesbian couples of mixed nationality in the United States in which one of the partners is a U.S. citizen. Other groups believe that the numbers could be much higher.
The New Jersey immigration lawyers at Helmer Paul Conley and Kasselman represent persons in visa, green card and citizenship-related matters, deportation, asylum, family and work-based immigration and other immigration-related issues across New Jersey.