Frances Herbert and her Japanese spouse, Takako Ueda, got a welcome development this week in their efforts to force the United States to recognize their marriage and end efforts to deport Ueda this when the Citizenship and Immigration Service informed them that Ueda had been granted a “period of deferred action” for two years. Effectively, the government assured the couple that, barring any criminal activity by Ueda, they would end its efforts to deport her, and allow her to seek a driver’s license and a work permit in the mean time.
“We are so happy,” Herbert told Raw Story. “It’s temporary and we need a permanent solution, of course,” she added, “but we’re enormously grateful.”
Ueda said, “The relief is tremendous and emotional.”
Herbert and Ueda have been together for 12 years, and were married in their home state of Vermont in April 2011 — but because of the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government will not recognize their marriage nor allow Herbert to sponsor her spouse’s green card application. They are one of five couples suing the federal government to overturn that section of the DOMA.
The temporary reprieve means that Ueda can finally get a job in the United States and apply for a driver’s license, rights she previously lacked and which have been a hardship on their family. “It’s very difficult to live without a driver’s license here in Vermont,” she said. But, even better, “I don’t have to worry about police cars when I see them.”
Herbert and Ueda credit their Congressional delegation, their communities and the people at Immigration Equality, which put together the lawsuit, for their reprieve. “I feel very blessed,” Ueda said, “I feel in awe of the support that we’ve gotten. It’s amazing, living in Vermont is amazing.”
Herbert agreed. “They don’t know us, but that so many people care enough to help strangers, it’s a big spiritual issue,” she said. “It’s deeply moving to be the recipient of other people’s compassion.”
The couple even received a personal phone call from Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), whose office wrote letters on the couple’s behalf to the agency seeking to assist. “It’s been very comforting, even though their hands were tied, to talk to a live person,” Herbert said, “It made us feel less alone.”
Herbert added, “It’s crazy that it takes a village to help two people who love each other to stay together.”