Nancy Pelosi Helps Binational Couple Win Immigration Victory | News | The Advocate.
By Andrew Harmon
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi with Bradford Wells (center) and Anthony John Makk
A married binational gay couple in San Francisco who made headlines last summer after they were denied a green card have been granted a two-year reprieve on their deportation case.
The San Francisco Chroniclereports on immigration officials’ decision to grant “deferred action” in the case of the couple, Bradford Wells and Anthony John Makk:
[Wells and Makk] won a two year stay against the threat of deportation, thanks to the personal intervention of their representative, House leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and state Sen. Mark Leno, a Democrat who represents parts of San Francisco, also provided assistance.
Makk is a citizen of Australia married to Wells, a U.S. citizen who suffers from AIDS-related illnesses. Makk is his primary caregiver. Makk was denied consideration for a green card based on his marriage to a citizen by the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, which bars all federal marital rights and responsibilities to same-sex couples. The law covers not only immigration issues but also hundreds of tax, Social Security and other federal laws.
“We’re still dizzy from the news,” said Makk. “We are elated.”
Makk has been forced to “play the visa tag game back and forth,” for years — on tourist visas, then business visas up until 2010. “We’ve worked so hard over 20 years just to maintain a legal presence in this country,” Wells told The Advocate in October. “If Anthony leaves, he can’t get back in. If something happens with his family, he can’t be there for them. Because he’s chosen to be here with me.”
The couple, who met with Pelosi in her Washington, D.C., office in October, had asked administration officials to put on hold the appeal of their application pending legislative repeal of DOMA or a legal ruling against it, which would allow Makk to remain stateside.
In a Wednesday afternoon statement, Pelosi said, “I appreciate the consideration of [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services] in granting this relief to my constituents. I join Anthony and Bradford in celebrating the decision, and will continue to work to repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.”
Steve Ralls, spokesman for Immigration Equality, said of Wednesday’s victory, “Though this is not a permanent solution, it is a meaningful and significant one that lifts the cloud of uncertainty that has hung over them for so long. They will not be separated, and Bradford will continue to have his caretaker at his side. We all remain committed to continuing to work for a permanent solution for all couples in their situation, but this is, indeed, a hopeful sign that things are changing.”
Deferred action, immigration attorney Lavi Soloway of Stop the Deportations explained, “is one of the most important short-term remedies available to permit the spouses and partners of lesbian and gay Americans to remain in the United States because it protects the couple from deportation and can provide access to employment authorization for the foreign spouse.
“The Obama administration should direct the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to make ‘Deferred Action’ available to every binational couple threatened with separation,” Soloway said in a statement. “This policy should be uniform, consistent and transparently applied immediately.”