Immigration | News

Shirley Tan's Heartbreaking Testimony for Gay Immigration Bill


Shirley Tan testified at the Uniting American Families Act hearings today before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

As Tan became emotional describing her arrest by immigration agents, Tan's son broke down as well. Tan has been with her partner Jay Mercado for 23 years. They have two 12-year-old sons. Tan faces deportation, but was given a reprieve in late April via a private bill which will allow her to stay in the U.S. until the end of this session of Congress, or unless UAFA passes.

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

You can view ALL THE TESTIMONY in our widget in the right hand column of the front page of our site. The widget is also share-able via the tab below the video. It may not be in chronological order, however.

Also, the NYT did a major piece on the bill today.

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  1. My heart broke watching Shirley Tan's son come apart at the hearing. NO ONE should have to choose between their country or their spouse.

    The UAFA bill is so important to us binatioanl couples. Our lives depend on it. I hope this passes or at least is added to the CIR bill.

    I also hope the GLBT community becomes more educated on the unfair immigration laws and start to speak out about this. Too many in the gay community have no idea what binationals have to go through.

    God speed on the passing of the UAFA bill.

    Posted by: LoveMoby | Jun 3, 2009 2:42:25 PM

  2. I hope the bill passes, but if marriage were allowed for homosexuals (as it should be), it wouldn't need to.

    Posted by: Wes | Jun 3, 2009 2:55:25 PM

  3. Very disturbing that no other committee members were in the room besides Chairman Leahy (and perhaps his minority counterpart) to hear this.
    They simply don't care.

    I worry this will end badly for Shirley Tan.

    Additionally, once the Catholic church gets wind of this, they will eject her (even if the local congregation loves her).

    Posted by: Alex | Jun 3, 2009 2:59:24 PM

  4. Critics in the GOP will say: "Oh, first you need to repeal DOMA. Then you need to ensure you're legally married - wait, you CAN do that, can't you?"

    Then they'll say: "Marriage is between a man and a woman. Your application doesn't meet those standards - come back when it does."

    They'll say a whole lot of exasperating bullshit, for as long as they can get away with it.

    Senator Leahy is right, it's an issue of basic fairness - and we have to INIST that Congress and the Senate get past the transparent road blocks to enshrine fairness in our immigration policies.

    Posted by: elcamino | Jun 3, 2009 3:03:12 PM

  5. It's horrible but this bill is DOA. The other members of the committee know it, and probably everyone in the room knows it too.

    As the NY Times has reported, the whole immigration enforcement apparatus is something out of the third world. The laws that you must follow are arbitrary and Kafka-esque, and the prisons that hold violators are squalid hellholes. There are people who disappear or die in the system, and the press either can't find out or can't be bothered to.

    Like other commenters have said, repeal DOMA and this is no longer an issue.

    PS why doesn't Shirley marry her partner in another state and then launch a court case against DOMA? Her story is very compelling.

    Posted by: Dan | Jun 3, 2009 3:08:59 PM

  6. My thoughts are with Shirley Tan and her family (and all others in a similar position)

    Posted by: Cj | Jun 3, 2009 3:24:25 PM

  7. Also giving moving testimony was straight, native born head of the NAACP Julian Bond...a total class act...and there are damn few of those anymore of any color.

    Reminding those who've forgotten; informing those who never knew: the man did THE UNTHINKABLE and refused to go to Coretta Scott King's funeral because it was being held at a major black homophobe's church. How often do we see moral courage like that?

    How often have we seen it since January 20th?

    I know Bond does a lot of speaking to gay groups, but it's wonderful to see him before Congress, etc. Let's leave some of our professional, overpaid, mealy mouthed gay "leaders" at home and send him to CNN etc.

    Posted by: Michael @ | Jun 3, 2009 4:26:34 PM

  8. I'm not so jaded that I don't feel deeply for this woman and her family. That said, the hate crimes bill, ENDA, repealing DADT and DOMA and banning sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in public accomodations, public programs, public employement, housing and credit rank MUCH higher on my agenda of LGBT issues than this bill.

    Posted by: Cheesehead | Jun 3, 2009 4:49:48 PM

  9. Well, if DOMA were repealed, Shirley could stay. She could get married in Iowa, for example, and then her partner could petition the feds to let her stay.

    Posted by: Dan | Jun 3, 2009 5:06:29 PM

  10. Newsflash Cheesehead. Full repeal of DOMA would most likely solve Shirley Tan's dilemna.

    I also suggest you read the Dallas Principles which states that in our demand for equality NO ONE will be left behind.

    Posted by: Observer1000 | Jun 3, 2009 5:14:43 PM

  11. cheesehead: "...rank MUCH higher on my agenda of LGBT issues than this bill."

    Um, in case you're really that dense, i'll remind you - they're all important.

    Posted by: KFLO | Jun 3, 2009 5:17:49 PM

  12. When is “end of this session of Congress”?

    I am in the same boat as she is.
    It would be such a relief…

    Posted by: Martin | Jun 3, 2009 5:42:24 PM

  13. Indeed they are all important, but if forced to choose only one LGBT-related bill to pass in this Congress and get signed by the President would you really pick this one?

    Posted by: Cheesehead | Jun 3, 2009 6:16:59 PM

  14. We can't afford to get weary.......or sit still ....or be silent...(ActUp knew that)...we can't afford to be jaded.....all these issues DOMA, DADT, rights of same sex immigrant spouses, are derived from a concept of Jefferson's called "Equality" where did I read about that ?

    Posted by: JackFkinTwist | Jun 3, 2009 6:21:56 PM

  15. If you are having trouble viewing the video clips of the UAFA hearing which I originally posted on YouTube... you can view them at

    Posted by: Inlookout | Jun 3, 2009 7:00:48 PM

  16. If this is to be effective it needs to be recut.

    All that dead space in the first two minutes means it's unlikely to be watched all the way through by anyone not already motivated to sit through the whole thing.

    Posted by: Distingué Traces | Jun 3, 2009 10:30:32 PM

  17. That's what happens when you try to get stuff up quickly... I agree with you but the cat's out of the bag and it's a little late to repost now. But people are watching... because they know it's important.

    Posted by: Inlookout | Jun 3, 2009 11:53:21 PM

  18. Can't you all see the abomination of this? Can't you all see the evil in this? Can't you see how this threatens the basic foundations of society? Can't you all see how every family will be destroyed by all this? Uh me neither.

    Posted by: Sargon Bighorn | Jun 4, 2009 2:48:34 AM

  19. This is exactly why accepting Obama's bullshit line on how gay issues like marriage are better left to the states is absolutely intolerable. The fact is that marriage is a federal issue, not a state issue. Without the capacity to have a marriage recognized on a federal level, the Shirley Tans of this country will continue to face unequal treatment under the law simply because they are homosexual.

    I refuse, REFUSE, to accept this bullshit from the Obama Administration and if we let this majority in Congress and Democratic control of the White House pass while only seeing something as frankly unimportant as ENDA pass and thinking that is enough, then we deserve to go back to the closet.

    Apologetic gays and the let's wait and see crowd can shove off. While I feel sure that in a century, these issues will be resolved, I'll also be six feet under. You have one life to live on this planet...don't waste it waiting for a Good Samaritan to give you what you want. Take it.

    Posted by: Alex | Jun 4, 2009 12:16:28 PM

  20. This is heartwrenching. The administration, and the President himself, officially make me sick. Watching his little verbal pas-de-deux with Brian Williams last night, when he knows full well that this woman and her family and countless other families are being torn apart by his inaction - when he could DO something...he just makes me sick. Vote him out. I'm done. I'm not waiting till the end of the month to reserve my judgment, because a) he isn't going to do anything substantive (mark my words) and b) it's already too late. Daniel Choi has been dismissed, Shirley Tan has been arrested and is being deported. Obama has destroyed people's lives when he could have done something. So much for signing Guantanamo closed as his first act...we all know what his first act should have been.

    Posted by: Offically Royally Pissed Off Andalusian Dog | Jun 4, 2009 2:07:01 PM

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