SHIRLEY’S BILL # 867 -introduced – by Senator Dianne Feinstein

best-of-last-computer-04-06-009MY COMMENTS – Melanie Nathan.

Great privilege to work with Shirley Tan and Jay Mercado to advocate for this Private Bills and a great big thank you to Senator Feinstein’s office for all your hard work and for listening to us and seeing the important nuances of this case:

All I can say is wow.  I read the wording of the Bill and was astounded by its implications, not just for Shirley Tan but for the entire immigration community, and the Lesbian and Gay, Same-sex couples community.  This Bill ties us together as allies with a common cause; our children!  This is an opportunity for gay and straight organizations and concerned citizens to form alliances – to support each other to protect our kids. No child should be separated from a parent and no American child should ever be ordered to depart this Country.

In fact that brings me to the fact that NO AMERICAN should be forced to leave this Country simply because they love another person of the same sex.  This is a human rights issue – once a citizen is compelled to exile.  At home its an issue of discrimination, of apartheid – its unconscionable to force an American to leave his/her job, home, career, language, family and of course I can go on,.

Please read the wording of this amazing BILL. I take my hat off to Senator Feinstein and note her courage in many aspects of this BILL.

I must mention though, that it does not help the  myriad ( possibly more than 36,000) binationals living  in fear or exile, it places before the congress expressions of  dismay, expressions of concern and flagrantly points out the fact that the USA does not have laws to “protect married people.”   Even though the Senator falls short of referring to Jay and Shirl as a lesbian couple, she alludes to the fact; after all what other type of couple could possibly be married and not have a right to petition for the non-citizen spouse!  Very interesting anomaly.  Here maybe for the first time, ever, we have mention in congress, of gay marriage, expressed  in legitimate terms!

Then there is this maybe also rare mention by Senator Feinstein of the plight of immigrants in general.

All said and done – this points to the desperate need for the passage of the UAFA – Uniting American Families ACT.  It has got to happen.   Even though I was the person who initially contacted Senator Feinstein’s office requesting a PB for Shirley Tan,  I know that it cannot be done for everyone.  The only legitimate floodgate will be UAFA or of course the demise of DOMA.

Please read the BILL which I have copied below. I will also provide the link so it can be read in its original PDF format.    It is absolutely fascinating and I simply cannot say enough in thank yous to the Senator and her extraordinary staff.  I will also soon be displaying some of the amazing letters of support.


S. 867. A bill for the relief of Shirley

Constantino Tan; to the Committee on

the Judiciary.

Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President,

today I am introducing a private relief

bill on behalf of Shirley Constantino Tan. Ms. Tan is a Filipina national living in Pacifica, California. She is the loving mother of 12 year old U.S. citizen twin boys, Jashley and Joreine, and the spouse of Jay Mercado, a naturalized U.S. citizen. I have decided to introduce a private bill on Ms. Tan’s behalf because I believe her removal from the U.S. would cause undue hardship for her and her family. Without this legislation, ( my notes: because there is no law for same-sex couples – if tere was this would not be the case- we need UAFA) this family will be separated or they will be relocated to a third country where Ms. Tan’s safety and her children’s wellbeing may be at risk. I believe Ms. Tan merits Congress’ special consideration for such an extraordinary form of relief as a private bill.

Before coming to the U.S., Ms. Tan experienced tragic hardship in the Philippines after her mother and sister were murdered by her cousin. Ms. Tan was only 14 years old at the time and the violent assault left her with a bullet wound in the head. Although the cousin who committed the murders was eventually prosecuted, he received a short sentence and his impending release from jail in 1990 compelled her to leave the country out of fear for her safety. Ms. Tan legally entered the U.S. on a visitor’s visa in 1989.

Ms. Tan faces deportation today in part because of the negligence demonstrated by her previous counsel. Ms. Tan applied for asylum in 1995. After years of appeals, the attorney received a brief from the Board of Immigration Appeals, BIA, outlining the Government’s position on Ms. Tan’s case. The attorney, however, failed to submit a

reply brief in her client’s favor and, in May 2002, the case was dismissed and Ms. Tan was granted an order of voluntary departure from the U.S. Ms. Tan should have received notice of the voluntary removal order from her attorney. However, the attorney had moved offices, did not receive the order, and failed to inform Ms. Tan of the information. As a result, Ms. Tan did not depart the U.S. and the voluntary removal order against her became a deportation order.

The first time that Ms. Tan received notice of the deportation order was on January 28, 2009, when Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers appeared at her home and took her into custody. In effect, Ms. Tan was denied the opportunity to adequately represent herself in U.S. immigration proceedings as a result of her attorney’s negligence.

Ms. Tan has since filed a complaint against her former attorney with the State Bar of California. A previous complaint has also been filed against the same attorney with the California Bar for similar misconduct. One of the most compelling reasons for permitting Ms. Tan to remain in the U.S. is the impact that her deportation would have on her two U.S. citizen minor children, Jashley and Joreine. These children are currently seventh graders at Cabrillo Elementary School in Pacifica, California, where they have made the honor roll. In letters to me from two teachers at Cabrillo Elementary, Jashley and Joreine were described as ‘‘ideal’’ students—‘‘the kinds of kids that make my job feel easy.’’ One of the teachers described their mother, Ms. Tan, as a highly-involved, ‘‘model’’ parent, one who ‘‘attends every conference, drives on field trips and consistently checks in with her boys’ teachers and the rest of our staff to make sure Jashley and Joreine continue to be successful.’’

However, if Ms. Tan is forced to leave the United States, this family has stated that they would follow her to the Philippines or relocate to a third country to avoid their separation. This means that Jashley and Joreine will have to cut their education short and have to leave the U.S.—their birthplace and the only country they know to be


All too often, young U.S. citizen children like Jashley and Joreine are being put in this position when one or both of their parents may be removed from the United States. A January 2009 report by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General found that, over the last 10 years, 108,434 immigrants who were the parents of U.S. citizen children were removed from this country. A separate report completed this year by Dorsey & Whitney LLP to the Urban Institute affirms what many of us know—that the removal or deportation of a parent is deeply traumatic and causes long-lasting harm to U.S. citizen children. For families that have no choice but to leave the United States as a unit in order to stay together, this has life-altering consequences for U.S. citizen children. Besides the fact that these children lose the opportunities that come with being raised in the United States, these children are more prone to anxiety, depression, eating and sleeping disorders, post- traumatic stress disorder, and behavior changes. This is the situation facing the Tan family.

While her marriage was legally performed under California law at the time, Ms. Tan cannot take steps to legally adjust her immigration status…..

This continues:   SEE THE BILL PDF……………….

2 thoughts on “SHIRLEY’S BILL # 867 -introduced – by Senator Dianne Feinstein

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