How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Calif. same-sex couple applies SCOTUS ruling to score another victory: A green card

Courtesy of Law Office of Alma Rosa Nieto

Yamileth Escobar, left, and Maria de los Angeles Dominguez celebrate their 2008 wedding. Dominguez obtained her green card Wednesday.

One of the first same-sex couples to marry in California in 2008 after the state began issuing licenses has made history again. Maria de los Angeles Dominguez, who was born in Mexico, gained legal immigration status as the spouse of a U.S. citizen. 

Dominguez made it through her green card interview Wednesday in downtown Los Angeles and was granted legal permanent status. Her attorney said this makes Dominguez and her wife, U.S. citizen Yamileth Escobar, the first Latina couple in the state to successfully test the Supreme Court's ruling on same sex-marriages in an immigration context.

The high court struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in June, allowing for federal recognition of same-sex marriages. This, in turn, allowed same-sex marriages to be recognized for immigration purposes. Previously, legally married same-sex spouses were unable to sponsor a foreign-born husband or wife for a visa.

Attorney Alma Rosa Nieto said Dominguez arrived in the United States on  a temporary visa in 1992 from Mexico and overstayed.  In 2002 she met Escobar, who is Salvadoran American. The couple has a young son born in 2010.

Nieto said her client's interview with immigration officials was as routine, as she'd hoped.

"The interview went exactly as it would have gone with heterosexual couples," Nieto said. "There wasn't additional documentation, additional questions. It was just as with a heterosexual couple."

What's next? U.S. citizenship. Nieto said Dominguez, as the spouse of a citizen, will be eligible to apply for citizenship within three years. 

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