Family torn apart as binational same-sex couple faces deportation

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A California family will be torn apart this Friday as Shirley Tan is deported back to the Philippines, leaving behind her partner of 23 years Jay Mercado and her twelve-your-old twin sons.

As reported in the San Jose Mercury News

It’s hard when they are breaking up families,” said a tearful Mercado, as she sat next to Tan in the house the couple owns overlooking the Pacific Ocean. “Why can’t they just leave us alone? Just because I am not a man, that I cannot petition her (for a green card), they are punishing us.”

“The thing is,” Tan said, “it’s not only me who they are punishing. It is mainly my kids, because they are innocent. They are the ones suffering.”

If deported, Tan will be banned from entering the U.S. for 10 years. Mercado is prepared to leave her job and home behind to keep the family together in the Philippines.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA-12), co-sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) and representing the couple’s district said this of the situation (from Immigration Equality)…

“Shirley Tan’s unacceptable situation is just one example of why Congress must pass immigration equality legislation.  The Uniting American Families Act, which I co-sponsored, will allow lesbian and gay Americans to sponsor their permanent partners for residency in the United States … In the near term, I am confident that any official who examines the facts in Shirley Tan’s case will come to the conclusion that this hard-working mother of two should not be sent to a country where she has no support network and was the victim of a horrific act of violence.”

The White House also confirmed their support for UAFA this week through spokesman Shin Inouye who said “The President thinks Americans with partners from other countries should not be faced with a painful choice between staying with their partner or staying in their country. We will work closely with Congress to craft comprehensive immigration reform legislation.”

Of course not everyone is so supportive…

“I’ve Got a simple answer for both of you lesbians, instead of trying to change our laws, just take your two sons with you, nobody will be suffering then. And don’t let that 747 plane door smack on your rear-ends, on your way to Manila!”

The Mark Chamot Report

Hopefully opinions such of as Mark Chamot’s are in the minority. Since Congress is going into recess next week, we should make every effort to meet with our representatives and let them know we can no longer allow families like this to be split apart by supporting the Uniting American Families Act. The Immigration Forum has made a toolkit available detailing how to schedule meetings with your local representative.

Read more on the personal story of Shirley Tan and Jay Mercado.

Post by ILO on 03/29/09 at 1:16 am