Gay Man in San Diego immigration detention ailing and desperate to reunite with Fiancé


The worst outcome of the unconstitutional DOMA is when it separates spouses and partners | If Max and Donald were a straight couple, this would not be happening

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 9.53.56 AMBy Melanie Nathan and Ken Williams, April 05, 2013.

A 26-year-old gay man is being held in immigration detention in El Centro, California.  However he should be in the arms of his beloved partner in New York. One unfair incident triggered a series of events that together with lack of immigration equality resulted in the couple being separated. If they were a straight couple, this would have turned out completely differently.

Instead of being safe at home with his husband-to-be, Ivan “Max” Flores Acosta has allegedly been subjected to anti-gay slurs, violent roughing up and sits without legal representation in a U.S. immigration detention center. He has had his life endangered while denied crucial medicine needed to prevent seizures and a special diet necessary to control his severe colitis.

Acosta’s only home is New York City, but after a deportation, he attempted to re-enter the United States from Mexico on March 15, without having legal paperwork, and so immigration authorities detained him at El Centro Service Processing Center in California’s Imperial County.

Acosta has lived in the United States since he was 13, when his family legally arrived here carrying visas. He was raised and schooled in South Carolina, and briefly attended the University of Charleston. At age 19, he moved to New York. He had been working part time and attending classes full time at a community college with the goal of eventually going to Columbia Law School and becoming a lawyer.

About 2½ years ago, Acosta met Donald Ziccardi, and they fell madly in love. A while ago, the couple decided to get married in New York, where same-sex marriage is legal, but did not have time to finalize their plans.

Because the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) discriminates against gay and lesbian couples who marry, a legal same-sex marriage would still not have allowed Ziccardi to sponsor Acosta for a green card, even though straight binational couples can do that without much effort and very little money.

A simple misunderstanding at a New York pharmacy triggered Max Acosta’s nightmare.

According to Donald, Max was in CVS pharmacy and took out of his gym bag a moisturizer to apply to his face. The assistant store manager accused him of ‘stealing’ the product and called the police.

Max said he was taken to a police precinct, where he was fingerprinted and held in temporary custody. When it became clear that Max was in the right and that he had not stolen the product, he was told that he was going to be released within hours. However Max’s clean criminal record could not help him, when it became apparent that he was undocumented, and so he was deported to Mexico, a place where he had no resources.  When he tried to return home to Donald, he was detained. Max knows no other home.

Finding himself alone in a country that is foreign to him even though he was born there caused him to take desperate measures to return home. He had been separated from everything near and dear to him., and most of all his spouse to be.

“I tried to come home,” Acosta told SDGLN, who broke this story today. “All of my family lives in the United States. I don’t know anybody in Mexico and I don’t have a home or a job there. … I feel like I’m an American. I grew up here. I feel like I belong here. I felt out of place in Mexico.”

Max has even participated in the American political process: “I worked for the Obama re-election campaign last year,” he said.

The only hope to reunite Max and Donald is if the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, in June, which is likely to happen.  Donald will be able to sponsor Max for a fiancé visa and then a green card, after they marry in New York.

Now Max Acosta must try and survive in detention, which ironically, although without critical medicine and allegedly being subjected to homophobic abuse, may be better for him than struggling to survive in a Country where he is not only risking persecution for being gay, but also a complete stranger, with no job, family, friends or any resources whatsoever.

However this is America and even the Obama administration agrees that DOMA is unconstitutional.  It is in this vein that we believe Max Acosta, who is costing the US government unnecessary tax dollars, should be released immediately and returned to his partner in New York City, as his ability to apply for legitimate residence in the U.S.A. is probably imminent. His helath should no longer be placed at risk and he should not be sent back to a country where he has no way to survive. The bottom line is he is being discriminated against under a law that has already been deemed unconstitutional and his life should not be in jeopardy because of it.

It is time to send Max home to Donald. Currently advocates are appealing to Congressman Joseph Crowley and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer to help Donald free Max. Please stay tuned for updates.

Story was first broken by Ken Williams,  Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at [email protected],

Advocacy Contact is:
Melanie Nathan [email protected]

Please Tweet Hashtag #MAXDONALD

Screen Shot 2013-04-06 at 10.56.46 AM

7 thoughts on “Gay Man in San Diego immigration detention ailing and desperate to reunite with Fiancé

  1. Dear Governor J Brown, Mayor Jerry Sanders, Senior Policy Analyst Guillermo Cantor, Minority Leader Nancy Patricia D’Alesandro Pelosi, Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton, President Barack Hussein Obama II, First Lady Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama, CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, Founder Fred Eychaner, Founder James Simons, Producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, Founder Irwin Jacobs, Jon Stryker, Ellen Lee DeGeneres, and our LGBTQQI family and friends, supporters and funders, media representatives and archivists, children of LGBTQQI families,


    Thank you very much,

  2. Hold on, Max! DOMA and Prop 8 are history after June… Immigration will bring you home to Donald or the Republican/TPods will self-destruct (if there is anything to self-destruct anymore) if they impede progress in the immigration arena. Hang in there, Guys! Many smiles and best wishes!
    George M Melby, M.Div. Pastor/Chaplain

  3. Mexico is not a homophobic country quite contrary we already have what the US doesnt which is full gay marriage across the whole country!!! bad article!

    1. The young man already had an anti-gay experience when he was dropped off. I imagine it is not always gay friendly just the same was as South Africa has the best pro gay constitution in the world is still one of the most homophobic countries in the world with a high incidence of anti-gay violence. I have no doubt that large cities and certain areas can be much more accepting than others. So having pro-gay laws is not always a reflection of society, prejudice and hardship. That depends on local communities. Sorry you didnt agree with one sentence – does that mean Max should not be oin the arms of Donald ?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

Gravatar Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s