August 20, 2011 | by Chris Johnson
Deportation halted for lesbian Mexican national in same-sex marriage

Sujey Pando (right) and her spouse Violeta (photo courtesy Lavi Soloway)

A Colorado immigration judge halted the deportation on Friday of a lesbian Mexican national in a same-sex marriage who would be eligible for a marriage-based green card if not for the Defense of Marriage Act.

Immigration Judge Mimi Tsankov in Denver, Colo., determined that deportation proceedings for Sujey Pando will be held off until January amid developments in the Obama administration on allowing gay foreign nationals in legally recognized same-sex marriages with U.S. citizens to stay within the United States.

Sujey is in a same-sex marriage with Violeta Pando, a correctional case manager. The couple has been together five years and married in Iowa in November 2010. If not for DOMA, Violeta would be able to sponsor Sujey for residency in the United States through a I-130 marriage-based green card application.

Growing up in Mexico, Sujey was ostracized by her family after she came out and was snuck into the United States at the age of 16. Her deportation troubles started in 2008, when she was arrested after a traffic violation and taken to jail. U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement was notified and deportation proceedings started against her.

MORE IN THE BLADE: DHS GUIDANCE ON IMMIGRATION OMITS SAME-SEX COUPLES

Lavi Soloway, founder of Stop the Deportations and Sujey’s attorney, said via e-mail the court’s action on Thursday is unusual because the hearing was intended to be the final decision day on the deportation and because the judge spent 45 minutes “methodically considering the procedural posture” of the case.

“In the end, the Judge set aside the intended purpose of the hearing, citing developments including the Attorney General’s intervention in a similar case in May — Matter of Dorman — and noted that the issues involved in this case existed in a context that was ‘fluid’ and ‘in a state of flux,’” Soloway said.

In May, Holder remanded to the Board of Immigration Appeals the case of Paul Wilson Dorman — a New Jersey man who’s seeking residency in the United States through his partner with whom he is in a civil union — to reassess a previous petition that was denied based on DOMA.

Soloway also said the immigration judge cited events as recent as this week as “having an impact on how to proceed.” On Thursday, the Obama administration unveiled new policy directing immigration authorities to conduct a case-by-case review of the approximately 300,000 undocumented immigrants facing possible deportation to determine which cases are high priority and low priority. The administration has said officials will weigh a person’s ties and contributions to the community and family relationships — including whether a potential deportee is in a same-sex relationship — as part of this consideration.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

1 Comment
  • All these administrative reforms from the Obama WH are welcome, even if they are almost three years too late. None are permanent and all are based on Obama’s steeply sliding poll numbers.

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