Man detained by ICE unable to marry his American fiance

BOSTON — A Brazilian immigrant claims the federal government is refusing to allow him to marry his American fiance.

Edjann Dos Santos, 29, first came to the United States with his parents when he was 13 years old. They all came on a visa, which Dos Santos overstayed.

His fiance, Katherine Machado of Fall River, said Dos Santos wanted to get his immigration status on track.

"Edjann was doing all the right things, he was going to school, he just got promoted to be a district manager," said Machado. "He was literally living the American dream."

Machado says she and Dos Santos had a dream of getting married and starting a life together, but all those plans changed last June, when Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested Dos Santos at work.

Dos Santos has been in jail ever since.

"The taxpayers are floating the bill right now," said Todd Pomerleau, an immigration attorney. "They're paying several thousand dollars to hold a person in jail who was working, paying taxes, supporting his family, supporting his community."

Pomerleau said the couple has filed numerous petitions for marriage, but ICE objected every time. That is why they were back in federal court on Tuesday.

When asked what would he say to those who claim Dos Santos is only trying to get married to stay in the country, Pomerleau said "he's been here since 2002, this is a person who was on the Dean's list, who's working in a management position, paying taxes, going to college."

While Pomerleau said Dos Santos has an arrest on his record, an OUI in 2011, he said the court ultimately tossed his conviction. He said there is no legal reason for the government to deny Dos Santos the chance to start the citizenship process.

"We dreamed of finishing school first, that was our priority, getting married, having beautiful children," said Machado. "As an American, you aren't exposed to it, so you don't know. Now, I feel like I'm the center of it, it's been such an emotional rollercoaster."

Later on Tuesday, Pomerleau told Boston 25 News a federal judge won't prevent the marriage, but he doesn't want it playing out in federal courts.

“He’s essentially been left in the dugout, they didn’t let him swing the bat," said Pomerleau.

It is still unclear how Dos Santos' situation will be resolved since he remains in custody.

For decades, a valid marriage prevented deportations, but not anymore.

The ACLU recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of several couples, suggesting ICE is targeting the spouses of legal residents. Rather than processing their paperwork, spouses are being detained. On Tuesday, the judge hearing Dos Santos' case was also hearing many of those cases as well.