It’s a good week for moving towards a world that doesn’t discriminate based on your sexual preference. Yesterday, immigration authorities dropped a pending deportation case against Henry Valendia, a Venezuelan man who is married to an American man. This case could set a precedent for future deportation cases being dropped as we watch to see if DOMA will truly be abandoned by the feds.
“This action shows that the government has not only the power but the inclination to do the right thing when it comes to protecting certain vulnerable populations from deportation,” said the couple’s lawyer, Lavi Soloway.
The case has been closely watched across the country by lawyers and advocates who viewed it as a test of the federal government’s position on the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.
In February, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced that the administration viewed the act as unconstitutional and would not defend it in the courts. Gay rights advocates asked the administration to postpone all deportations for same-sex married couples until the courts decided whether the marriage act was constitutional, but the administration said it would continue to enforce the law.
It is unclear if this case dropped because of the Obama administration declaring DOMA unconstitutional or because ICE is trying to cut back on deportations for people that aren’t criminal offenders, but it will hopefully set a precedent for future deportation cases. I don’t agree with the defense attorney that this case shows that ICE has a keen eye to those populations most vulnerable, I would argue that incarcerated populations that are at threat of deportation are quite vulnerable, but this is a step in the right direction if it means that immigration authorities are going to be less aggressive in their deportation tactics.