Gay Costa Rican man married to U.S. citizen faces deportation hearing in Houston on Thursday

Gay Costa Rican immigrant David Gonzalez, an accountant who is fighting to stay in Texas with his husband, U.S. citizen Mario Ramirez, faces a deportation hearing Thursday morning in Houston. Gonzalez and Ramirez, who’ve been together for six years and live in the Houston suburb of Humble, were married in California in 2008. But Gonzalez has overstayed his tourist visa, and because of the Defense of Marriage Act, he cannot apply for a Green Card based on the couple’s marriage. If the judge doesn’t agree to put his deportation on hold Thursday, Gonzalez’s attorney plans an asylum claim based on the fact that he fled Costa Rica in 2000 to get away from an abusive ex-lover who is on the country’s police force. The Houston Chronicle reports:

For years, Gonzalez said, he dreaded this day, but his hopes have been buoyed by a spate of high-profile cases involving same-sex couples and by the support of Ramirez, his “soul mate.”

“I am not afraid anymore,” Gonzalez said. “I am glad this day is coming — whatever the outcome.”

The Houston case follows on the heels of several recent decisions that have — at least temporarily — spared gay and lesbians in long-term relationships with U.S. citizens from deportation. On Wednesday, a San Francisco immigration judge postponed for two years the deportation proceedings against a Venezuelan man married to a U.S. citizen.

In June, the U.S. government canceled deportation proceedings for a Venezuelan man in New Jersey married to an American man — a high-profile case that immigrant and gay advocates said signaled a major shift toward greater leniency for same-sex couples in immigration proceedings.

“Certainly the families and couples we work with are more hopeful today than really at any prior point,” said Steve Ralls, a spokesman for the national advocacy group Immigration Equality.

—  John Wright