Jane DeLeon, an accounting clerk in Irvine, CA and originally a native of the Philippines, has been sponsored by her employer for a green card. She came to the U.S. more than 20 years ago, so it should have been just a formality. Instead, her application has been rejected on the basis of DOMA, or Defense of Marriage Act.
DeLeon made the mistake two decades ago of arriving in the U.S. as if she were married. In truth, she only had common law relationship with one Joseph Armas. This meant her green card application needed a waiver on the grounds that DeLeon's removal from the U.S. would cause extreme hardship to American citizens who may be a spouse, parents or children.
Given that she's been living and working here for over 20 years, the waiver should not have been a problem. But the government refused to give her a waiver, citing DOMA laws which bar the government from recognizing same-sex marriages.
The federal government says Jane DeLeon's marriage in 2008 to a 49-yr old American woman named Irma Rodriguez is not a valid reason to grant a waiver, since DeLeon cannot be recognized as related to an American citizen. Rodriguez apparently has a medical condition and the waiver application says her health would suffer terribly if the couple were forced to move to the Philippines to stay together.
The couple has now filed a federal lawsuit in California, which asks the court to help sort out their immigration problems. The lawsuit also seeks wider class-action status with a number of similar same-sex lawsuits filed across the nation, and asks the court to issue a blanket injunction on deportation of immigrants who are being removed solely because of DOMA.
Immigration officials refused to comment on the specifics of the case, but said they would continue to follow regulations under DOMA until such time as the law is overturned by the judiciary or repealed by Congress.
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