SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A lesbian couple filed a federal lawsuit in California on Thursday seeking to solve their immigration woes and put a stop to the deportation of same-sex spouses.
The suit — which seeks class-action status — was filed on behalf of Philippines citizen Jane DeLeon, who was sponsored for a green card by her employer but can't get a waiver she needs to obtain residency here because the U.S. government doesn't recognize her three-year marriage to her American spouse.
The case is one of a number of challenges brought by same-sex couples — some of them facing immigration troubles — over the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that prohibits the U.S. government from recognizing same-sex marriages.
"It's clearly the kind of case where typically the waiver would have been granted, but it was simply denied based on DOMA," said Peter Schey, president of the Los Angeles-based Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, which filed the suit on behalf of the couple and DeLeon's 26-year-old son.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services declined to comment on individual cases. The agency said it will continue to enforce the Act "unless and until Congress repeals it or there a final judicial determination that it is unconstitutional."
In addition to solving DeLeon's immigration problems, the couple is seeking an injunction to halt the deportation of immigrants in same-sex marriages who would qualify for legal status, were it not for the Act.