Editor’s Note: Every so often we use this space to allow a member of the LGBT community to report on a personal crisis that’s related to political decisions and policies that could be affecting many others in similar circumstances.
MY NAME is Jonathan Alderete Loussaief, and I live in Grand Prairie, Texas. My husband’s name is Bilel Loussaief, and he is a gay Tunisian citizen. We fell in love and lived together for two years. Unfortunately, ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] picked him up at work on July 26, 2019, and brought him to a detention center.
I applied for a marriage license in Tarrant County on October 1, 2019, and we were married in the detention center in Alvarado, Texas.
With the help of our attorney, we requested bond for Bilel’s release, but he was denied bond by Judge James Nugent. He had a hearing in late October and was denied by another judge, because Bilel had briefly been married to a woman before their divorce. The judge concluded that my husband is not gay, even though I testified that we are in love and live together in a committed sexual relationship. This judge also decided that my husband is not gay, negating his claim that he could be tortured if sent home, and ordered him to be deported.
It is illegal to be gay in Tunisia, and, based on anti-sodomy laws currently in place, it is punishable by up to three years in prison. We are terribly frightened of what will happen if he’s deported back to Tunisia, because he came out as a gay man here in the U.S. The specific risk if he is deported is that my only recourse will be to request his return as my husband with what’s called an I130 visa request [which would reveal that he’s gay to Tunisian authorities].
We need help getting this story out. The unfairness of the judge’s ruling goes beyond the fact that Bilel is in a loving, monogamous relationship with a man. ICE approved the marriage, and we were married on October 30th of last year at the Prarieland Detention Center in Alvarado, Texas. For years I fought hard for marriage equality to have the right to marry the love of my life one day. Now I’m fighting hard to have the right to keep my husband by my side.
I am reaching out because I need to locate more resources to secure my husband’s freedom. It seems as if we’re hitting brick walls at this point. My “husbear” has now been moved to an immigration detention center in Cleburne, Texas, where the conditions and treatment are deplorable. We’ve tried to work through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, but on April 17th they denied my husband’s appeal because they also do not believe he is a gay man. The lawyers have given up and apparently don’t know how to argue this case.
Please do what you can to put our story out there.
Jonathan Alderete Loussaief