Options dwindle for binational lesbian couple facing deportation on Friday

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As reported earlier this week, Friday may be Shirley Tan’s last day in the United States, leaving behind her partner Jay Mercado and her twin sons as she is deported back to the Philippines, as current immigration law doesn’t allow binational same-sex couples to sponsor their partners.

The offices of state Senators Boxer and Feinstein have been actively working on a private bill, which if passed by Congress, would allow the couple to stay or at least delay the deportation until the family could make proper arrangements to move out of the country. But the odds of such a bill coming together and passing on such short notice is unlikely.

Jackie Speire who represents the couple’s district is also exploring options. As reported in the Bay Area Reporter

“We’re doing everything we can. [Speier’s] instructed us to see what the remedies are,” said Mike Larsen, Speier’s communications director, who noted they found out about Tan’s case “pretty late in the process.”

“If we can introduce a private bill that will help her, then she’s instructed staff to find out what can we do in time to help her out,” said Larsen.

“Our understanding is that in the Senate when a private bill in an immigration case is introduced, the deportation is stayed immediately, until the end of that term of Congress,” added Larsen, who said in this case that would be early January 2011.

“In the House, the order to stay would not occur until after the private bill made its way through the committee process, so we are currently trying to see … if there’s a way to speed up the committee process or if there’s some other route that we are unaware of,” said Larsen.

He added that based on what they know of Tan’s case, “on the face of that … it appears she should at least get a hearing to determine the viability of her claim, because it does seem to be this previous immigration lawyer, for whatever reasons, didn’t seem to keep her client adequately informed.”

The only other possible option is for Tan’s attorney to request an emergency stay of deportation once Tan is in custody on Friday.

Are hearts go out to them, and this story is further proof that we have a long way to go to achieve equal rights. And how important it is that we get the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) passed now.

Please show your support for their family on Facebook.

Post by ILO on 04/01/09 at 11:38 pm