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Pinoy Abroad

Married Pinoy gay in San Francisco escapes deportation

September 2, 2011 4:09pm
A Filipino gay man in San Francisco in the United States was spared from being deported to the Philippines and being separated from his life partner, thanks to a new policy that recognizes same-sex marriage as a family tie.

According to a report of the Contra Costa Times, the case against Raul Sinense was temporarily closed and the deportation proceedings against him were stopped on August 16.

The report said Sinense, 46, who has been residing in California for 15 years, married Californian artist Peter Gee, 49, in 2008.

Contra Costa Times said Immigration Judge Tue Phan-Quang stopped the proceedings a few days after a lawyer from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) wrote that it was no longer seeking to send Sinense back to the Philippines.

While Sinense's case is only on indefinite hold, the decision allows him to remain with his husband and reapply for a work permit, the report said.

A new policy of the Obama administration orders immigration officials not to deport “low priority immigration offenders" and to consider their strong community and family ties.

The report said in June this year, ICE head John Morton ordered immigration officers to use "prosecutorial discretion" in evaluating candidates for deportation and to give consideration to cases that "may split a family apart."

While the federal government has yet to recognize same-sex marriages, the White House affirmed Morton's order on August 18 by declaring this kind of union as a family tie.

Contra Costa Times said Sinense and Gee are one of just three gay couples in the US so far who have benefited from the new policy, which steers attention away from "low priority immigration offenders."

"San Francisco right now is really the center of this policy shift," the couple's lawyer Camiel Becker told Contra Costa Times. "We have judges who don't want to deport people if they're in a same-sex marriage. It's not just by chance."

Inclusion, equality

Seeing their legal battle "as a civil rights cause," Gee told the Contra Costa Times that the decision has showed him that the US is moving toward "inclusion, equality, [and] humanity."

Sinense, on the other hand, said he and his partner can now proceed with the "most ordinary and simple life" that they had planned together.

"I see myself growing old with Peter," Sinense told the Contra Costa Times. "It would have been difficult starting my whole life over again." - with Rose-An Jessica Dioquino, VVP, GMA News
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