Paul Frame describes his marriage to Jose “Ivan” Nuñez Martinez, 37, as yin and yang, opposites attracting.
Frame is 15 years older and talks eagerly, while he says Nuñez is soft-spoken and laid back. And while Frame grew up in rural Chester County, helping with his parents’ cattle auction business, Nuñez fled his home in Michoacán, Mexico, and at least twice crossed the border into the United States illegally.
After their marriage made Nuñez eligible for a green card, Frame pushed his husband to start the application process. Nuñez was nervous.
“He works 12 hours a day, he gets up at 3, leaves here at 3:30 in the morning for 12 hours,” Frame said. “I said, ‘If you get legal, you don’t have to do that sh– anymore.’ ”
On Jan. 31, when the couple showed up for a mandatory interview to adjust his status, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested him.
Frame and attorneys with Audrey Allen Immigration Law, the firm representing Nuñez, said his arrest also blindsided them.
“I was very confident going into that hearing,” said Frame, his voice tightening. “I’m the one who told him to get legal.”
Immigration officers took Nuñez to York County Prison, where ICE holds immigrants it arrests and places in deportation proceedings. Nuñez has requested asylum, based on the fear that gangs will threaten or harm him based on his sexuality if the U.S. deports him to rural Mexico. His sister, who is also queer, has gone into hiding in Mexico to avoid threats of violence.
Immigration attorney Mary Chicorelli also had a client arrested at USCIS during a spousal interview in mid-January. Her client, who she declined to name because his extended family does not know about his arrest, had a criminal conviction, making his detention less unusual. After he was taken to immigration detention in York, he was released on bond and is continuing to work toward a green card.
That no one is really doing anything about this now is the same way that Nazi Germany began targeting its victims in the early days. It’s always someone else until it’s you.