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S.F. Gay Couple Caught in Ongoing Immigration Rights Battle

S.F. Gay Couple Caught in Ongoing Immigration Rights Battle


Immigration authorities have denied a request from an Australian citizen caring for his ailing husband to remain in the United States, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Anthony John Makk has been ordered to leave the country by August 25 after a petition for permanent residency submitted by his husband, Bradford Wells, was denied (the couple married in Massachusetts in 2004). The decision by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services was issued July 26 and received Friday by Immigration Equality, which is working with the couple in an appeal of the decision.

Makk's application -- one that detailed his role as sole caregiver to Wells, who has AIDS -- was quickly rejected by immigration authorities without review of obvious hardships in the case, according to Immigration Equality spokesman Steve Ralls. Officials have repeatedly said that the Defense of Marriage Act bars them from approving green card applications for same-sex spouses.

But immigration field agents and attorneys tasked with the actual removal of individuals who have been ordered to leave the U.S. have also recently been given updated guidance on prioritizing caseloads. It's possible that binational gay couples could be considered in several criteria for exercising discretion, including the "person's ties to the community" and "whether the person has a spouse, parent or child who is a U.S. citizen or green card holder," according to a June 17 memo from Immigration and Customs Enforcement director John Morton.

Drew Hammill, deputy press secretary for Rep. Nancy Pelosi, told the Chronicle that the House minority leader "will be working to exhaust all appropriate immigration remedies that are open to pursue."

Last month an immigration judge in San Francisco ruled that another binational married couple in California be spared deportation proceedings for more than two years should the government not drop its case. Government attorneys were given 60 days to decide whether it would halt proceedings against Alex Benshimol, a Venezuelan citizen who entered the U.S. on a tourist visa in 1999 and lives with his spouse, Doug Gentry.

Read the Chronicle story here.

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