.
Woman immigrant in same-sex marriage won't be deported
Monica Alcota, right, can remain in the U.S. with her wife, Cristina Ojeda, after Alcota's immigration case was dropped.
December 6th, 2011
10:17 PM ET

Woman immigrant in same-sex marriage won't be deported

By Kristina Sgueglia, CNN

New York (CNN) - A New York woman releases a deep sigh of relief as she reflects on a court ruling that her spouse will not be torn from her by the looming threat of deportation.

"Now we can make plans, and we have all the time in the world," Cristina Ojeda, 26, tells CNN.

Monday, she received a letter confirming the ruling by Immigration Judge Terry Bain that will allow her wife, Argentina-born Monica Alcota, 36, to stay in the United States, according to the couple's attorney, Lavi Soloway.

Soloway said this is the first time the government had asked an immigration court to close removal proceedings against a spouse in a same-sex couple since the Department of Homeland Security announced November 17 that a "working group" would be reviewing all pending immigration cases.

The group began the process of identifying and closing "low priority" deportation cases three days after Soloway submitted the request to close Alcota's immigration case, the attorney said.

"We're really gratified because we feel that government moved in the right direction in the time we needed," Soloway told CNN.

He made the request to halt deportation based on Alcota's marriage to Ojeda, who is a U.S. citizen, and on Alcota's "strong moral character, family presence, and deep ties to members of the community." Alcota lives with Ojeda in Queens, where she restores antiques.

Until Monday, life for Alcota and Ojeda had been put on hold for two years.

Alcota had been living in the United States for more than 10 years since overstaying her tourist visa, when she was pulled off a Greyhound bus in July of 2009 and taken into a detention center in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Ojeda explained.

Ojeda, a social worker in Queens, traveled two expensive hours by subway, bus, train, and sometimes cab - there and back every day for three months - to see Alcota.

"Looking back on those days, we have come so far, we have accomplished something really big," Ojeda said.

The couple was married in Connecticut in 2010, before New York law allowed same-sex marriages.

"We have gone through a really rough road these past two years. The burden was horrible. We never knew what was going to happen," Ojeda said.

"We lived in fear we were going to be torn apart," she told CNN.

While celebrating their success, Ojeda said "the battle is not over."

She told CNN that Alcota's effort to be granted a green card, which was originally denied, now has been submitted for appeal.

"Of course, we will not have full equality until DOMA is gone," the couple said in written statement.

The Defense of Marriage Act bans federal recognition of same-sex marriages. The act also says that states cannot be forced to recognize such marriages performed in other states.

Despite the battle ahead, the happily wed lesbian couple is excited to have their life back.

"At least we have this. We know she is not going to be taken away, we can live our lives a little better, we can do things we haven't been able to do," an emotional Ojeda told CNN between joyous gasps.

The couple is even turning over the idea of renting a new apartment and perhaps getting a new car.

CNN's Kristen Hamill contributed to this report.

soundoff (356 Responses)
  1. Brett

    sounds like someone doesn't know that straight woman are far more vulnerable to aids than they were before (;

    December 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. DrBear

    Sounds like someone needs to just admit it already and come out of the closet.

    December 20, 2011 at 4:38 am | Report abuse |
    • jusme101

      Sounds like I've never heard that gay response before... Aren't we cleaver in our own mind...

      December 24, 2011 at 1:53 am | Report abuse |
  3. ilegal landscaping

    I have been ilegal here for the past 8 years and own a lanscaping company and employ 12 ilegals and 20 legals.
    I may have to marry one of my ilegal employees then to get a green card, great!
    Great idea. I already contacted my lawyer and we are meetin on Tuesday to create a scheme.

    December 11, 2011 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
  4. jeepster455

    How freakin touching. Now we can make justifications as to why illegal people can remain in the U.S.

    December 9, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JOSE0311USMC

    SOLUTION TO THE ILLEGALS WHO ARE IN THE U.S.--JAIL TIME FOR ANY EMPLOYER WHO HIRE THEM ..IF WE ENFORCE THAT THEY WILL DEPORT THEMSELVES BACK TO WHERE THEY CAME FROM. -AMERICA WON'T HAVE TO DEPORT ANYONE, THEY WILL DEPORT THEMSELVES .

    December 9, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Linda

      Impractical. Employers are limited in how they can check on the legal status of employees. Please don't write in caps and try to use full sentences.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. CSCI132

    There should be no rewards for criminals, period. An illegal laien is a criminal by the very nature of their presence and they should be arrested and then promptly deported. If they are legally married in America to a legal resident then the spouse can file with immigration services to be the sponsor of the immigrant and in due time the illegal can return to America, legally.

    December 9, 2011 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
  7. James

    America ins systems was criminal

    December 8, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Alex

    So now judges are breaking the laws. This is exactly what we need for this country to fail.

    December 8, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • JOSE0311USMC

      FAIL ?? AMERICA IS TOO FAR GONE..LIKE A TRAIN WITHOUT BREAKS...I REALLY BELIEVE THAT AMERICA IS DOOMED....NO ONE WANTS TO DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE..
      1. WITH 20 % UNEMPLOYMENT IF YOU COUNT THE PART-TIME WORKERS THAT CAN'T GET FULL-TIME WORK, WHY DON'T WE END ALL LEGAL IMMIGRATION ? NO ONES WANT S TO DO THAT.--2. WE NEED TO STOP OUTSOURCING THE JOBS TO CHINA, NO ONE INCLUDING OBAMA WANTS TO DO THAT...-–3. WE NEED TO END FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS, NO ONE WANTS TO DO THAT.-–4. WE MUST ENFORCE THE IMMIGRATION LAWS, NO ONE WANTS TO DO IT. ...THAT IS WHY I SAY THAT AMERICA IS DOOMED. A TRAIN WITH NO BRAKES.

      December 9, 2011 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
      • Ohsotired

        @JOSE0311USMC: Those jobs that you want to bring back to the US were exported so Walmart and other retailers could sell merchandise at a lower cost to consumers. Are you and every other person in the US prepared to pay the price for those same goods when they are manufactured in the US at a much higher price? Great idea to get people working but if no one will purchase at a higher price it isn't going to happen. That's why those jobs are overseas now – we didn't want to pay the price to keep Americans working.

        December 10, 2011 at 4:17 am | Report abuse |
  9. Veronica

    While we are at it, please get rid of birthright citizenship.

    December 8, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      Hey why so hateful, especially with a (latin) name like VERONICA?

      December 9, 2011 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
      • JOSE0311USMC

        RICK--I'M A HISPANIC GUY-I AGREE WITH VERONICA...IS WRONG TO WALK ACROSS THE BORDER AND HAVE BABIES HERE IN THE U.S. SO THEY CAN BE U.S. CITIZEN'S. ...

        December 9, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • JOSE0311USMC

      VERONICA THAT TO NEEDS TO BE DONE...I FORGOT TO MENTION THAT ABOVE..

      December 9, 2011 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  10. Criolla

    The US grants visas or forgets/forgives to people that belong to a strong political group like gays, lesbians, AIDS,HIV , jews, chinese,all this groups can do as they wish, even Mexicans now are not being deported, because important positions in the goverment were given to their leaders.
    The rest of we have to pay the price, higher taxes, property taxes, terrible schools, we are the least to be treated at clinics/
    We legal residents and citizen we are second class. Vote for who is going to think first on us and enforce laws that exist.

    December 8, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. TruthTalks

    ILLEGAL residence/workers TAKE jobs from Americans.

    If there were NO ILLEGAL residents in this country it would force employers to pay Americans livable wages to do the job. The reason why ILLEGAL residence get paid below minimum wage is because they are ILLEGAL residents/workers who have to except any work they can find, employers love that because they can hire 5+ ILLEGAL workers for the price of one American to do a job. So PLEASE stop using the "ILLEGAL residents do the jobs Americans wont do which keeps America afloat" excuse because THAT'S NOT TRUE, ILLEGALL residence/workers are helping to destroy Americas economy and to keep Americans UNEMPLOYED. Americans are willing to work in fields but employers aren't willing to hire us because they will have to pay us maybe 15 – 20 dollars an hour and provide health insurance, so they hire ILLEGAL workers that will work for close to nothing, it's simple American GREED not American laziness.

    December 8, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • JOSE0311USMC

      TRUE-IF WE HAD ZERO ILLEGALS IN OUR COUNTRY THE WAGES WOULD GO UP . GOOD WAGES THAT WILL PAY THE BILLS...BUT AS LONG AS WE HAVE ILLEGALS GET USE TO LOW WAGES....EMPLOYERS ARE NOT GOING TO RAISE THE WAGES WHEN THEY CAN GET MEXICANS TO WORK FOR $ 8.25 AN HOUR WITH NO BENEFITS.

      December 9, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Duke

      No it wouldnt
      Look what happened in Georgia this Past year
      They Couldnt even force Parolees to do the Job for 12 bucks an hour

      December 9, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ohsotired

      American companies that employ illegals would hire Americans if they could sell their product at 5 times the price they are getting now – is everyone prepared to pay that? How about a $5.00 head of lettuce? Or maybe $20.00 for a bag of oranges? Kind of scary when you think about it.

      December 10, 2011 at 4:23 am | Report abuse |
      • TruthTalks

        LOL Stop it American employers don't want to hire Americans because their cheap which is why they rather hire 5 illegal residents for the price of one American. Hiring Americans will not cause inflation but not hiring Americans and/or paying them livable wages will cause a recession/depression and natural inflation that stays stagnant because Americans just can't afford to pay the current prices due to ILLEGAL immigration/workers.

        DEPORT ALL ILLEGAL RESIDENTS/WORKERS AND HIRE AMERICAN.

        December 11, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Neece

    I don't know if some people are ignorant or just plain stupid! Have non-citizens in our country is the least of our problems right now and if you cannot see that I feel bad for you when you finally do realize that the GOP has noone's best interest in mind except their own! They will rack you over the coals for your last dollar. People complain and complain but look what is happening in Alabama. They started to impliment a new bill regarding immigration and people started leaving. Now they have crops that need to picked but no american wants the job. Its too much hard work. The majority of them come here looking for a better life for their families. They take nothing and turn it into something, and to be honest, I think that those same folks that continue to complain are just plain jealous! They are jealous because they do not have the heart, the wearwithall not the gumption to do what they have done. I would love to see the masses in our country do what they have done. The masses would fail!!! Hispanic immigrants are some of the most humble people you will ever meet. Get a life!

    December 8, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • JOSE0311USMC

      NEECE--I'M A HISPANIC GUY..I SUPPORT WHAT ALABAMA AND WHAT ARIZONA ARE DOING...NEECE IF YOU WANT TO PAY FOR THEIR HOSPITAL BILLS ?? SCHOOLING ? WELFARE ? UNEMPLOYMENT ? YOU DO IT, BUT DON'T EXPECT THE REST OF US TO PAY FOR THEM..I'M HAVING A HARD TIME PAYING MY OWN BILLS...BUSINESSES ARE THE ONLY ONES WHO BENEFIT FROM ILLEGALS...WHEN THE Y GET SICK–HAVE BABIES , WHO PAYS ? THE BUSINESS THEY WORK FOR ?? NO, TAX PAYERS DO. DEPORT THEM ALL.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JOSE0311USMC

    OBAMA AND DEMOCRATS WON'T GET MY VOTE AGAIN... THE AMERICAN PEOPLE 65 % WANT THE IMMIGRATION LAWS ENFORCE.

    December 8, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JOSE0311USMC

    I AGREE. ENFORCE THE DAM LAW.

    December 8, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Lucy

    also I would like to know how this couple met!? and got married, it says right in the post they married in NYC, SO she was here ILLEGALLY for god knows how long. Did they meet in NYC? meaning she was living here WITHOUT her spouse for how long before they met?

    December 8, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  16. jay12312

    Just another case of the powers that be not doing their job and enforcing the laws that are in place.

    December 8, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  17. shanthi

    First, She got rewarded for breaking the law being illegal immigrant. And people who work hard and pay taxes, are deported by government for any reasons........ Whats up with that. I guess law makers need to think on this. illegal is illegal.

    December 8, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  18. 587

    Sounds to me like they (& their lawyers) hatched a plan to keep her in the USA. She was here in the US for 10 years...She was caught in 2009 and they get "married" in 2010. She's just pretending to be a lesbian, so that they can play that card.

    December 8, 2011 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  19. Rock dust

    I really resent the fact that the US government allows illegal immigrants to stay here in America. I spent 1.5 years filling out paperwork, waiting for the government to make decisions, and paying lots of money to bring my fiancae legally. This is B.S.

    December 8, 2011 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
    • cb

      . . . but she IS here legally now.

      December 8, 2011 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
    • JOSE0311USMC

      ROCK--I'M NOT ANTI ANYONE, BUT WE DO NOT NEED ANYMORE PEOPLE IN OUR COUNTRY...YES WE ARE ALL IMMIGRANTS , BUT WHEN AND WHERE DO WE DRAW THE LINE ? I SAY THE TIME TO DRAW THE LINE WAS 2 YEARS AGO.. AMERICANS ARE HURTING WITH NO JOBS, DO WE NEED MORE IMMIGRANTS ? HELL NO.

      December 8, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
1 2