- Legal Services
- Stories & Testimonials
Marcelo and Doreen met in Buenos Aires in 2008. Marcelo was a journalist and human rights activist who had been wrongfully imprisoned by the military junta as a youth. Doreen was an author and poet from Marin. Both lovers of tango, the pair became enamored with each other on the dance floor of the beautiful tango ballroom at The Confiteria Ideal—but their relationship would become complicated by Marcelo’s path to emigration.
As a young student protesting the Argentinian government’s authoritarian closure of universities, Marcelo had been unjustly detained and tortured by the junta. And, since there were no legal divorces in Argentina when Marcelo’s first marriage dissolved 35 years before meeting Doreen, his divorce would need to be formalized. Between his arrest history and unresolved earlier marriage, it was not going to be easy to obtain a fiancé visa from the United States.
Marcelo and Doreen were determined to be together, however, so they embarked on the arduous journey through the immigration process. They faced a series of painful setbacks and delays, but they were eventually able to overcome the challenges with the help of JFCS’ immigration experts.
Brett Snider, an immigration attorney and the Director of Legal Services at JFCS, played a pivotal role in Marcelo and Doreen’s journey. Brett and his team helped Marcelo resolve the issue of his student arrest. JFCS’ Legal Services department also recommended that Marcelo and Doreen contact their congressperson’s office when the Covid-19 pandemic forced embassies around the world to close. An industrious aide was able to put them in direct contact with a closed embassy and schedule Marcelo’s required physical examination.
JFCS’ fierce advocacy and refusal to accept defeat were what Doreen and Marcelo needed to finally cut through the red tape. In July of 2021, Marcelo was granted entry to the U.S. on a fiancé visa. They were married three weeks later in a beautiful ceremony at Rodef Shalom Synagogue in San Rafael, California.
In July of 2023, nearly ten years after beginning his journey, Marcelo worked with JFCS’ Legal Services again to finally obtain his permanent residency card. Now, the JFCS team is eagerly on standby, waiting for the date when Marcelo is eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.
When asked if there was anything they would have done differently throughout this entire process, Doreen said, “We would have reached out to JFCS right from the beginning. That would have cut two years off at least. Brett and his team really know the law around it. It’s not just immigration!”
Marcelo and Doreen’s story is a poignant reminder that love and resilience can triumph over even the most formidable—and bureaucratic—challenges. With the support of one another and the guiding hand of JFCS, Marcelo and Doreen are forging ahead with open hearts and an unwavering sense of possibility.
About JFCS Immigration Services
JFCS’s Citizenship Services help individuals and families navigate the complex immigration system. We provide legal assistance, case management, and financial support to help people achieve their immigration goals.
If you are facing immigration challenges, we encourage you to contact JFCS for help. We can help you understand your options and develop a plan to achieve your goals.
To learn more about JFCS Citizenship Services, visit our website or call us at 415-449-2906.
To donate to help more families like Marcelo and Doreen’s, visit jfcs.org/donate.