Shirley Tan and Jay Mercado

Posted on January 30, 2010. Filed under: Stories - from other sites |

Various Articles related on the journey of Shirley Tan (Philippines) and Jay Mercado (Philippines) as they face deportation from US

Lesbian couple inspires US immigration reform
MARCONI CALINDAS, GMANews.TV
05/06/2009 | 02:22 PM
SAN FRANCISCO, California — A Filipino couple’s fight to stay together is fueling a push to grant gay Americans the right to sponsor their foreign partners for permanent residence.

At the center of the campaign are Jay Mercado, an American woman, and her Filipino partner, Shirley Tan, who was recently saved from deportation after a California lawmaker sponsored a bill that put the case against her on hold. The couple has been busy gracing several media interviews in the Bay Area.

Tan, 43, was taken into custody in January for allegedly overstaying her 1985 tourist visa.

In an interview on Sunday night here, Tan said she filed for asylum in 1995. She feared that a cousin in the Philippines who had killed her mother and sister and critically wounded her when she was a teenager might try to hurt her again if she came home.

Tan didn’t know that her asylum request had been denied until federal agents came to take her away in handcuffs, she said.

She was scheduled for deportation on May 10, a prospect that would have separated her from Mercado, her partner of 23 years, and their 12-year-old twin boys.

But the case was blocked after Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Democrat-CA) introduced an emergency measure allowing Tan to stay in the United States while Congress looks into her case.

Without the bill, Feinstein said, “this family will be separated, or they will be relocated to a third country where Ms. Tan’s safety and her children’s well-being may be at risk.”

““Right now we’re happy and pleased with the outcome because she (Tan) can stay with us; and we don’t have to be apart,” said Mercado, 48, who has been in domestic partnership with Tan since 1991 and married to her since 2004.

Mercado added that the ordeal has strengthened their faith in God, even though the Roman Catholic Church condemns their relationship.

The couple’s troubles are far from over, however. Feinstein’s bill only blocks Tan’s deportation through 2011.

Buoyed by strong support from gay rights activists, Mercado and Tan are shifting their focus to the push for passage of the Uniting American Families Act. The immigration measure would allow gay Americans to sponsor their foreign partners for green cards.

“Now our main purpose is to get the UAFA passed because this will help a lot of people since there are over 36,000 bi-national couples (that are on the same boat as ours),” Mercado said.

Mercado said when they hadn’t realized there are many other lesbian and gay couples facing similar immigration challenges.

Tan spoke about the experience: “It’s very touching during those trying moments. We don’t know what to think but our main purpose was just for me to stay here. We are a very close knit family.”

She added, “There’s hope and there’s UAFA that we hope will eventually pass.” – GMANews.TV

Emergency Senate bill saves lesbian couple from deportation
By 365gay Newswire
04.23.2009 3:56pm EDT
(Washington) A bill introduced on the house floor yesterday by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) is keeping Jay Mercado, her partner Shirley Tan and their twin 12-year-olds together – at least for now.

Mercado, an American woman and Tan, her Filipino partner, live in Pacifica, California with their 12-year-old twin sons, both American citizens. Tan had been ordered to appear for deportation on May 10, but the emergency bill will keep the family together at least through 2010.
Federal immigration law does not currently allow LGBT Americans to sponsor their partners.

Activists from around the country, including those from Marriage Equality USA, Out4Immigration, Immigration Equality and Love Exiles, learned about Tan and Mercado’s plight a month ago, and pleaded with elected officials for help. The story national prominence as a feature article in the April 20 edition of People Magazine.

“Those of us who have followed this case closely are overjoyed for this family. But this case highlights the need for Congress to pass the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) – legislation that has been languishing for 10 years – and would help the estimated 36,000 gay and lesbian Americans in a loving and committed relationship with a foreign partner stay together in the U.S.,” said Amos Lim, co-founder of Out4Immigration.
The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), re-introduced in February 2009 by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) would add the words “or permanent partner” to existing immigration law wherever the word “spouse” appears. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prohibits gay and lesbian Americans from accessing equal immigration rights, along with 1,137 other rights that come with a federally recognized marriage. The UAFA currently has 97 co-sponsors in the House and 17 in the Senate. Feinstein is not one of them.

Feinstein’s Emergecy Bill Saves Same-Sex Couple from Deportation

California Political Desk
April 24, 2009
San Francisco, CA — Because federal immigration law does not currently allow LGBT Americans to sponsor their partners, it took an emergency bill introduced on the Senate floor yesterday by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to keep one same-sex binational couple and their family together in the United States.

Jay Mercado, an American woman and Shirley Tan, her Filipino partner, live in Pacifica, California with their 12-year-old twin sons, both American citizens. Shirley had been ordered to appear for deportation on May 10, but the emergency bill will keep this family together at least through 2010..

Their well-documented case was initially brought to the attention of Molly McKay, Media Director for Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA), just over a month ago. Immediately, activists from around the country, including those from MEUSA, Out4Immigration, Immigration Equality and Love Exiles, took up the cause and pleaded with elected officials for help. In the month that followed, the story lit up the blogosphere, was written about in the San Jose Mercury News, and gained national prominence as a feature article in the April 20 edition of People Magazine.

“Those of us who have followed this case closely are overjoyed for this family. But this case highlights the need for Congress to pass the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) – legislation that has been languishing for 10 years – and would help the estimated 36,000 gay and lesbian Americans in a loving and committed relationship with a foreign partner stay together in the U.S.,” said Amos Lim, co-founder of Out4Immigration.

“They say it takes a village to raise a child, well, it took a village to help create what feels like nothing short of a miracle for this family. Senator Feinstein and Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) have renewed our faith and hope that fair-minded Americans are finally stepping forward to help LGBT Americans enjoy the freedoms and protections extended to all other families” said McKay. “But Shirley and Jay are just one example of the thousands of families that face a similar peril. We thank Senator Feinstein for her extraordinary act and call on her to please co-sponsor the UAFA. Now is the time to move forward on equality. Please call and thank Senator Feinstein at (202) 224-3841 and urge her to help the thousands of families standing right behind Jay and Shirley.”

“This is a family who tried everything to stay together but still ended up nearly getting torn apart by our unfair and discriminatory federal laws that deny equality for LGBT Americans,” said Chris Waddling, Bi-National Couples Outreach Director for Marriage Equality USA. “Senator Feinstein has done a noble thing in submitting a private bill to save this family, but her next step must be to sign on as a co-sponsor of UAFA, so that this kind of extraordinary action is never again required”

“Each of us did one or two things that we could do. And for that moment, we gave up feeling powerlessness, stopped being resigned and cynical. We know we will wake up again tomorrow as second-class citizens in the eyes of US federal law. And all we can do is take one more step. It is the only way we will win. It’s up to us,” said Martha McDevitt-Pugh, founder of Love Exiles and a US citizen forced to leave the country to stay with her wife and live in the Netherlands.

The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), re-introduced in February 2009 by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) would add the words “or permanent partner” to existing immigration law wherever the word “spouse” appears. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prohibits gay and lesbian Americans from accessing equal immigration rights, along with 1,137 other rights that come with a federally recognized marriage. The UAFA currently has 97 co-sponsors in the House and 17 in the Senate. Ironically, Senator Feinstein is not one of them.

Updated: Filipino lesbian mother faces deportation from US
by News Editor
A 43-year old woman who faces likely deportation to the Philippines on Friday leaving behind her partner of 23 years and two twelve-year-old twin sons in Pacifica, California, has been allowed a two week reprieve from deportation.
Update (Apr 3, 2009):

The Advocate reports that Shirley Tan has been allowed a two week reprieve from deportation after California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer were both fighting to keep Tan from being sent back to the Philippines, where she was previously subjected to horrific violence.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, Tan first applied for political asylum in 1995 and thought her case was still pending, until immigration officials knocked on her door this past January. She said she was completely unaware a deportation order had been issued in 2002. Her bid for asylum failed because the threat to her life in the Philippines came from a relative – who shot her in the head when she was young over an inheritance battle – instead of from the government.

==============================================

A 43-year old woman faces likely deportation to the Philippines on Friday leaving behind her partner of 23 years and two twelve-year-old twin sons who were conceived invitro using her American partner’s eggs.
Shirley Tan and her partner Jay Mercado, a naturalised citizen born in the Philippine, were married in San Francisco in 2004 but their marriage was voided among the other 4,000 marriages performed by the city of San Francisco. The California’s Supreme Court ruled that Mayor Gavin Newsom overstepped his authority when he ordered city hall officials to begin issuing marriage licences to gay couples.

Even if it still were in effect, the federal Defense of Marriage Act prevents Mercado from sponsoring her partner of 23 years for immigration. Were the pair a married opposite-sex couple, advocates say, Tan could be legal.

The couple are both the legal parents of their boys who are US citizens. Tan now wears an ankle bracelet assigned by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who knocked on the front door at 6.30 am on Jan 28 this year, according to media reports.

Immigration Equality released a press statement on Mar 27 highlighting the US’ discriminatory immigration laws saying: “We hope the press will generate US government interest in staying the deportation, and understanding of the need for passage of the Uniting American Families Act to stop the destruction of our families.”

Immigration Equality press release:

CALIFORNIA � Immigration Equality today spoke out about a California family that may soon be torn apart. Due to immigration laws that discriminate against lesbian and gay couples, Shirley Tan will likely be deported April 3, separating her from her life partner Jay Mercado, their twelve-year-old twin sons, and Jay’s mother, for whom Shirley is the primary caretaker. The deportation will send Shirley back to the Philippines, where she was a victim of extreme violence.

“From the moment my sons were born we have never been apart. It’s tearing me apart to have to leave without them,” said Shirley.

Unlike married straight Americans, Jay cannot sponsor her life partner for immigration. The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) would remedy this discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans and allow them to sponsor their partners for immigration. The bill, introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy in the Senate and Rep. Jerrold Nadler in the House, has 107 additional cosponsors in the Senate and House.

Shirley and Jay are also seeking a private bill from their members of Congress for a stay of deportation, so that they can stay together in the US or have time to make plans to uproot their family and move together to another country.

“Once again a family is on the verge of being torn apart because U.S. immigration laws discriminate against gays and lesbians,” said Immigration Equality Policy Director Julie Kruse. “We hope the U.S. government takes immediate steps to keep Shirley and Jay and their children and parents together, and that Congress passes the Uniting American Families Act so the destruction of our families ends.”

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA-12) and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who represent Shirley and Jay in Congress, have cosponsored the Uniting American Families Act.

“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,” said Rep. Jackie Speier. “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.”

Victoria Neilson, Immigration Equality’s Legal Director, stated, “There may be no options for this family under existing law. How can they explain to their children that the U.S. Government does not consider them a family?”

This week, the White House issued a statement about the Uniting American Families Act, saying “[President Obama] 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.”

37 thousand couples across the nation face similar circumstances.

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