In my non-blogging time, I do consulting on immigration issues. I also teach ESL to immigrants every week. It’s an important issue for me. And, it’s another issue where the Obama adminstration has not kept its promises. In fact, what’s not widely known is that the Obama administration is deporting more undocumented immigrants than Bush ever did. And, recently, they sent Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to Capitol Hill to brag about it. Meanwhile, Obama’s oft-repeated campaign promise to push for immigration reform never materialized. This is a hot topic in Spanish language media (and Latinos are the fastest growing voting demographic.) This all probably explains that while Obama’s approval rating is 73% among Latino voters, but his reelect number is a paltry 41%. According to Latino Decisions, which conducted the poll, “This 32 point gap could spell trouble down the road.” Sure could. Obama needs a huge turnout of Latinos to win key states like Florida, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico in 2012.
The White House maintains that its only deporting criminals. That’s not true as evidenced by the case of Henry Velandia. He is legally married to Josh Vandiver. Because of DOMA, Henry can’t apply for a green card as the spouse of an American citizen. So, the Obama administration is trying to deport Henry.
Tomorrow, Henry is facing his final deportation hearing. Ten LGBT groups will be there to protest. The Facebook page is here. From the press release:
On Friday, LGBT organizations from across the country will rally behind a gay bi-national couple facing impending deportation hearings. In the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, GetEQUAL is working with a host of other LGBT organizations — including Stop the Deportations, All Out, Courage Campaign, Garden State Equality, Immigration Equality Action Fund, Marriage Equality USA, Out4Immigration, Princeton Equality Project, and Queer Rising — to make clear that these deportations of must stop now.
The rally outside the Newark Federal Courthouse is taking place as a gay bi-national couple — Josh Vandiver of Colorado and Henry Velandia of Venezuela — are facing deportation hearings on Friday in Newark. Despite having been legally married in Connecticut in August 2010, Vandiver (a Ph.D. student at Princeton University) and Velandia (a salsa dancer, instructor, and founder of a Princeton-based dance studio) are facing a nightmare scenario — potentially being ripped apart from one another at the hands of the U.S. government.
Because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which discriminates against same sex couples, the federal government doesn’t recognize their marriage. As a result, Josh cannot sponsor Henry for a green card — unlike any other straight married couple in the same situation. This legally married, loving couple are now at risk of being torn apart as Henry’s potential deportation date looms on May 6.
Josh and Henry have become tireless advocates for LGBT bi-national couples in the United States, while fighting to stay together and save their own marriage. Last fall they launched the “Stop The Deportations” campaign to raise awareness of the cruel impact that DOMA has on married same-sex bi-national couples and to challenge DOMA in immigration court proceedings.
“I never intended or wanted to be an activist, but I have to do what is necessary to save our marriage and to keep the man I love in this country,” says Josh, reflecting on their seven month campaign. “On May 6 Henry could be ripped away from me. But that doesn’t have to happen. The Obama administration can immediately stop the deportations of spouses of gay and lesbian Americans. This would ensure that Henry and I aren’t torn apart.”
Quick note to Brian Bond, Melody Barnes, Cecilia Munoz and Janet Napolitano: Fix this. It is absurd. Stop these deportations. You’re not going to win any friends on the GOP side of the aisle by deporting Henry or any other spouse. Lamar Smith won’t be assuaged. You’re just pissing off your base.
UPDATE: Check out the video, “President Obama, Don’t You Remember?” from GetEQUAL: