Brian Andersen and Anton Tanumihardja are very much in love and want to spend their lives together, but Anton is now facing likely deportation to his native Indonesia where people like Anton – who is openly gay, Christian and ethnically Chinese – are subjected to persecution simply for being who they are.
“Brian means everything to me. He is by my side in every single situation. I can never be separated from him. I love him so much. I will never find anyone else like him.” -Anton Tanumihardja
Brian Andersen and Anton Tanumihardja of Philadelphia, Penn., are very much in love and want to spend their lives together. They have committed to doing exactly that through a civil marriage ceremony in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, Anton is now facing likely deportation to his native Indonesia where people like Anton – who is openly gay, Christian and ethnically Chinese – are subjected to persecution simply for being who they are.
Senior officials in the Obama administration have said that individuals like Anton should not be considered a priority for deportation and that cases like his must be set aside for compelling humanitarian reasons. Anton’s case is a perfect example of the kind that should be given such consideration: (1) he is legally married to his U.S. citizen spouse, Brian Andersen, and has strong family ties to his spouse and his spouse’s family; (2) if Brian and Anton were a straight couple, Brian could simply sponsor Anton to stay here legally; (3) he is a hard-working and respected member of his community; (4) he has strong ties to Philadelphia, which has been his home for the past nine years; and (5) Anton has no ties to Indonesia, a country he fled because of persecution due to his identity.
Yet in spite of this new policy, intended to keep all families together, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is still moving forward with plans to deport Anton. Because the written guidelines that were issued for ICE deportation officers on June 19 are not being followed, Brian and Anton may be separated indefinitely as early as January 13, 2012. As if that thought isn’t awful enough, Anton’s physical safety would also be put at enormous risk should he be required to return to Indonesia, and he would have nowhere to turn for support.
“Brian means everything to me,” says Anton. “He is by my side in every single situation. I can never be separated from him. I love him so much. I will never find anyone else like him.”
As of right now, Brian and Anton will soon have to appear before Philadelphia ICE deportation officers once again. At that time, it is expected that Anton will be instructed to make travel arrangements for a one-way flight to Indonesia, or worse, be deported immediately. But not if the Obama administration actually follows through with its commitment to protect and keep all families together – including gay and lesbian couples. But time is running out. Please join with GLAAD in demanding that the Obama administration live up to its promise and save Anton from deportation. To be clear, we are asking the Obama administration to be accountable for the policy it announced in June – a policy that protects innocent families from being torn apart by deportation. This must be a top priority as Anton and many others are facing deportation now. The policy in June is clearly not being applied as it was intended by the administration, and the result is immediate, devastating consequences. Concrete actions must be taken immediately to get agencies and officers on the same page, so that couples like Brian and Anton don’t lose one more night’s sleep over the thought of being separated forever.
“If I could speak with President Obama, I would tell him that I belong in this country because I have a family here – my husband, Brian, and my mother-in-law, Debbie,” says Anton. “I love this country very much. I just don’t want it to separate me forever from the people I love most.”
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