Paul Frame — a gay man living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — says that officers with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested his Mexican-born husband, Jose “Ivan” Nuñez, on Jan. 31, 2018 while the two men were in an application interview to help Nuñez become an official U.S. citizen. The resulting ICE gay arrest has mobilized local immigration activists who say that Nuñez has a right to stay in the U.S. based on current immigration law.
Nuñez entered the United States from Mexico eight years ago. Although border officials turned him away on his first attempt, according to Nuñez’s lawyer, they allowed him in on his second attempt without any legal charges. According to Nunez’s lawyer, Gonzalo Peralta, Nuñez neither has a criminal record nor any pending criminal charges.
Nuñez and Frame men met at a wedding in 2014 and married on Apr. 9, 2016. The two were in a meeting at an office for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to discuss Nuñez’s I-130 Form, the legal form for “U.S. citizens or permanent residents who want to help a family member — in this case, a spouse — legally immigrate to the U.S,” according to The Inquirer. The interview was a routine one to verify the men’s marriage.
Frame said that during the interview, ICE agents showed up and asked to speak with Nuñez alone. After Frame left, ICE agents put Nuñez in handcuffs and took him to the York County Detention Center, where he sits today.
Peralta said that the USCIS subsequently approved the men’s I-130 application. “So,” says Inquirer writer Jeff Gammage, “one government agency is approving Nuñez’s immigration while another agency is taking it away.”
USCIS officials say that they notify ICE agents when people who come to their office have warrants of deportation or are in proceedings, but neither apply to Nuñez.
Nuñez had passed a “reasonable fear” interview which verified his fear of being harmed in his home country for being gay. He is now joins the 111,000 “collateral arrests” of non-threatening undocumented citizens by ICE.
The queer Latinx social justice organization GALAEI is among several activist groups advocating for Nuñez’s release.