As gay and lesbian couples around the city make plans to wed, two Queens women are terrified that their marriage isn’t good enough to prevent them from being ripped 5,000 miles apart.
Monica Alcota, 36, an Argentinean immigrant, is embroiled in deportation proceedings — even though she is married to Cristina Ojeda, a U.S. citizen. They were legally married in Connecticut in 2010, but Alcota’s tourist visa expired in 2001.
Ojeda, 25, filed a petition asking that Alcota be classified as the spouse of a U.S. citizen, but the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services denied her request in May, despite the fact that gay marriage is now legal in both Connecticut and New York.
The couple is now waiting until their next hearing in December to find out if Alcota will be deported.
Their lawyer, Lavi Soloway, blames the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The hotly contested law bars giving a spouse in a same-sex marriage the same protections as in a straight marriage.
As they wait to hear their fate, the couple avoids flying, driving or even going out for a drink together because Alcota lacks identification.
She is terrified to be in a car for risk of being pulled over by police. In July 2009, while they were traveling from Buffalo, Border Patrol officers pulled her off a Greyhound bus when she could not provide an ID. She spent three months in a detention center.
“It’s hard for her to go to the bank, to go to the post office,” Ojeda said. “We live day by day.”
Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @AlisonatMetro