Just because Obama promised to keep “low-priority” bi-national gay couples out of the deportation process doesn’t mean he’s stopped deporting legally-married homos—especially since the Defense Of Marriage Act doesn’t allow the federal government to treat married same-sex couples the way they would straight couples.
So as early as this coming January, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could deport Indonesian-born Anton Tanumihardja even though he has no criminal record, has lived here for almost a decade, had close ties to his community and legally married his American spouse, Brian Andersen, this past June in Washington, D.C..
Has Obama reneged on his promise?
Tanumihardja narrowly avoided deportation this last February when LGBT advocacy groups got his deportation deferred just hours before his flight to Jakarta.
But today the ICE office in Philadelphia denied Tanumihardja a deferred action request which means he’ll have to return to the ICE office in January and either make travel arrangements back to Indonesia or go into custody for a proper kicking-out American style.
Matt Chandler, deputy press secretary for Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says that the case-by-case review that Obama promised to help sort bi-national gay couples into “low-priority status” has not yet begun. And that as a result, many local ICE offices continue enforcinng immigration laws without any clear guidelines on how to exercise the prosecutorial discretion that would allow them to defer cases like Tanumihardja’s until the courts and legislature figure out DOMA’s constitutionality.
In the meanwhile, Tanumihardja and Andersen cling to the hope that the government will figure out how to treat legally-married gay couples come January rather than tearing the men 10,000 miles apart at the start of 2012.