Tom Swann, 58, and Guillermo Hernandez, 21, met in May 2015 and quickly fell in love. By December, they became engaged, but just three days later, officials arrested Hernandez on trespassing charges and disrupted their happiness.
This week, the pair married at an immigration facility in Calexico, California – becoming the first gay couple to exchange vows in a detention center. The two originally planned to marry at a Palm Springs golf course on Valentine’s Day, according to The Desert Sun. However, on January 25, he faced a judge for entering a casino before turning 21. When he turned 21, he returned to the casino, which violated his five-year ban from the property. Following the district attorney’s recommendation, the judge didn’t sentence Hernandez to any jail time, according to Fusion.
Plains clothes immigration agents arrested Hernandez after the trial. Hernandez emigrated from Mexico to the United States at age 7. As such, President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action program protected Hernandez from deportation, but problems with the law made it impossible for him to renew the temporary legal status DACA afforded him.
Fusion reports that DACA recipients’ records can’t include felonies or three or more misdemeanors. Hernandez third misdemeanor charge came because police busted him with methamphetamines, and Hernandez’s one felony charge came after unknowingly riding in a stolen car.
Because Hernandez’s future remains uncertain, Swann wrote a letter to the warden requesting permission for the two to marry. “We enjoy being together, and he is the greatest thing that has happened to me in 28 years,” he wrote. “I used to be so lonely and depressed; Guillermo makes me feel young and healthy again. He is a dream come true.”
Swann, who has AIDs and went blind in one eye because of the disease, also wrote a 13-page letter to immigration officials describing how Hernandez took care of him. Hernandez reminded him to take his medicine, and he kept their home clean. Swann also argues that deportation isn’t the answer for his husband, who hasn’t committed any violent crimes.
Instead, Swann, who served in the Marine Corps for four years before serving in the Navy reserve, believes he can mentor Hernandez. But if Hernandez is ultimately deported to Mexico, Swann may follow him.