Dear Mr. President:
It was with a mixture of pride and dismay that I watched your press conference today in which you reiterated your support of the DREAM Act. I feel pride because you are taking a stand to protect a group of people who deserve to stay here and keep contributing to our great country. But I also feel dismay because it seems you have yet to strongly embrace a cause that personally effects me.
Mr. President, I hope you will soon turn your attention and considerable political weight to the plight of bi-national same sex couples. The Uniting American Families Act is currently the only viable legislation in progress for people like me. I understand it has been included in the framework of the comprehensive immigration reform package that you hope to push for next year. Unfortunately, with the Republicans controlling the House, comprehensive immigration reform may be a non-starter. I ask that you please consider other solutions for immediate relief.
Let me tell you my personal story. Three years ago I met the person that would change my life. I fell in love with a woman from the United Kingdom here on a temporary work visa. I knew, after a few months of dating her, that I was faced with a difficult choice. Through an unfortunate series of personal circumstances, she is not eligible for a green card. When her visa expires, she will need to leave the country for at least a year. There is a possibility that she may not be able to return.
You can probably predict where this is heading. We are registered domestic partners in the state of California and cannot marry at the moment. However, were we to marry, she still would not be able to stay in the country because the federal government does not recognize same sex relationships. This is in stark contrast to the ability of straight married and engaged couples to bring their partners into the United States.
When my partner’s visa expires next year, it is extremely likely that I will be leaving with her to parts unknown in Europe. I will be leaving behind my career, my friends, and my family. My parents in particular will be heartbroken. My mother is disabled and will need extensive back surgery within the next two years. I don’t have any siblings and my father will be forced to be her caretaker while she recovers. Their situation is made more dire because they own a business together. I honestly don’t know how they’ll manage to keep it running.
I could chose to stay here for my family, but my partner has become my life. It would kill me to be separate from her. As much as I love my family, and am concerned for my parents, most likely I will be leaving.
When I leave I will be taking with me the investment of my federally-subsidized UC Berkeley education. This country will also lose my partner, one of the brightest people I have ever known. She is highly intelligent, a star and one of the few women in the field of computer engineering, yet unable to qualify for a green card because she lacks a college degree and educational record. She has been granted U.S. patents and has over ten years of experience as an engineer. She is also an accomplished visual artist who volunteers her time with a church group here in the Bay Area. Frankly, I feel that she should be able to stay in the U.S. on her own merits regardless of her relationship with me. But without a clear path for naturalization, the Uniting American Families Act has seemed like our only hope.
Mr. President, just like the DREAM Act kids, same sex couples are often thrown into situations beyond their control. How do you control who you love? Over the course of our relationship my partner has become part of my family. My parents recognize her as their daughter in law. Her life is here, with me. It is incredibly cruel to make her leave, and cruel to make me chose between staying with her or staying in the country of my birth.
Earlier this year, USCIS officials issued a memorandum stating that with presidential approval they could grant parole in place or deferred action to people that would qualify for status under pending comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Since the Uniting American Families Act is slated as part of the CIR, is it possible you might issue an Executive Order allowing same sex permanent partners and spouses to stay in the country? If granted parole in place or deferred action along with a work permit then perhaps my partner could stay in the U.S. and keep her job. I know your wish is probably to pass CIR as soon as possible, but with the Republicans in control of the House, this seems unlikely. A temporary solution would be a boon for couples in my situation until the Democrats (hopefully) regain control of the House. Ideally you would also be working on repealing DOMA, but again with Republicans in control of the House, this seems like a tall order.
Our hopes and the hopes of many couples like us rest almost entirely with you. Please consider the urgency of our situation and issue an Executive Order.