In a closely watched case, a gay undocumented Irishman has had his deportation order suspended and his case “administratively closed” as the Obama administration seems intent on taking steps to halt deportation of gays who have married.
The Immigration Appeals Court has suspended the deportation of Paul Wilson Dorman, 50, a gay undocumented Irishman originally from Newtownards, Co. Down who is living in New Jersey.
Dorman, who has been in a long-term relationship with John Paul Frederick, Jr., 48, since 1997, was flagged for deportation when he was waiting to meet his son, who is a minor, at the airport. A member of ground staff became suspicious of Dorman’s immigration status and reported him to the authorities, Dorman’s attorney told the Irish Voice.
The Dorman decision was eagerly awaited by other gay married couples as a test case of whether the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which does not recognize gay marriages would continue to be applied by the Obama administration. Dorman had no other grounds for appealing other than he was legally married.
Instead the administration has sent the case to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to have Dorman’s possible green card adjudicated on the basis of his New York State marriage.
Dorman’s lawyer Nicholas J. Mundy stated, “This move represents another clear and unambiguous signal that the administration is relaxing enforcement of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and taking steps to delay and prevent the deportation of same-sex couples and the devastating discriminatory impact of DOMA."
Mr. Dorman and his same-sex spouse were previously joined in a New Jersey State civil union on June 1, 2009, and thereafter married in the State of New York on March 27, 2012. They filed a request for a relative visa petition, the first step toward obtaining lawful permanent residence, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services on May 2, 2012.
Recognizing Mr. Dorman's right to seek adjustment of status (a 'green card') before USCIS on the basis of his New York State marriage, the Department of Homeland Security agreed to 'administratively close' Mr. Dorman's deportation case in the interim, virtually extinguishing Mr. Dorman's fear of imminent deportation from this country.
'Administrative Closure' means that Mr. Dorman and the government both remain free to re-calender his deportation case before the Judge to resolve the legal issues surrounding DOMA that were previously posed to the Immigration Judge by the Board of Immigration Appeals.
For the time being, however, this action by the government represents an undeniable message that the current administration would prefer to diminish the discriminatory impact of DOMA in favor of exercising humanitarian discretion, as they continue to scrutinize and question DOMA's constitutionality. This decision gives an additional reprieve to all same-sex couples facing deportation who have been anxiously awaiting a decision in Mr. Dorman's case.
This decision also has far-reaching ramifications for everyone adversely affected by DOMA, and signals another blow to it's constitutionality and not just in an immigration context.
Had Dorman been heterosexual and married to a woman his application for a visa would have been granted. U.S. immigration law does not recognize same sex marriages with regards to granting immigration benefits.
For Dorman it all comes down to this -- does he have a legal spouse? “Marriage has always been delegated to the states unless and until the federal government steps in and trumps it. That’s what happened with DOMA.”
Mundy believes that the groundswell in support of equal treatment for gay unions is unstoppable.
“You have to win the battles in order to win the war."