SCRANTON, PA. (CN) – A federal judge has made permanent his order prohibiting Luzerne County from denying marriage licenses to people who cannot prove their immigration status. The ACLU sued last year on behalf of a West Hazleton couple who were denied a marriage license by county officials.
Judge A. Richard Caputo ruled last year that Luzerne County violated the constitutional rights of U.S. citizen Heather Buck and her now-husband Jose Arias Maravilla, a citizen of Mexico.
Judge Caputo on May 1, 2007 prohibited Stankovic and the county from demanding a visa or other proof of immigration status before issuing a marriage license. The couple was married on May 7, just before Arias was required to return to Mexico. Judge Caputo’s Feb. 11 consent order makes his previous order permanent.
When they sought a marriage license on April 17, 2007, Arias presented his birth certificate, passport and immigration papers, but Stankovic rejected him because he did not have a green card or a current visa, the ACLU said.
Luzerne County agreed to pay $10,000 in damages to the young couple, and to advertise their forced change in policy.
“These proceedings underscore the basic fact that a couple’s right to marry simply cannot be held hostage to officials’ views on immigration,” ACLU attorney Omar Jadwat said.
Hazleton, Pa., has become famous for its officials’ demand that they be given power to enforce immigration laws, including local immigration ordinances.