UAFA Would Keep Shirley Tan with her Partner and Kids

By Gina Acebo Jun 05, 2009

This is Shirley Tan, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). UAFA would allow U.S. citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their same-sex partners for family-based immigration. Tan fled to the U.S. after her mother and sister were violently attacked and murdered in her native country of the Philippines; she and her life partner of 23 years, Jay Mercado, have been raising their twin sons in Pacifica, California. At 6:30AM on April 28, 2009, Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents showed up at their home and produced a 2003 deportation letter which Tan told them she had never seen. She was immediately handcuffed and taken away while her partner’s mother watched in hysterics. What struck me about the video was not simply Tan’s courage in speaking as an immigrant woman of color, a loving partner to her life companion, and a devoted parent to her two sons; but to witness the vulnerability of her 12 year old son, who silently wept as his mother spoke… …Which leads me to the ‘hater’ part. While the hearing took place, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), ranking minority member of the Committee and the only Republican to attend the hearing but publicly opposed to UAFA, watched the boy weep and commented to his aide, "Enough with the histrionics." WTF?!? Sessions had the audacity to call this boy’s emotional torture of having to listen to the possibility of his family being torn apart from harmful, discriminatory immigration policy and practices as insincere theatrics??? I guess Sessions’ defense of torture easily carries over to his apparent disdain for and disinterest in a family who, prior to April 28th, could only describe their lives together as "almost perfect." Don’t let the Tan-Mercado family, or any family, be torn apart! Take action and call your U.S. Representative to urge them to cosponsor the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA).