Will Anton Tanumihardja Be Deported?
October 05 2011 8:39 PM ET
The Obama administration’s August announcement that binational gay couples may be considered lower-priority cases in the nation’s inundated immigration system will be put to the test Friday for one Indonesian man previously ordered deported.
As Philadelphia Gay News reports, Anton Tanumihardja, who came to the U.S. on a tourist visa in 2002, and his American spouse, Brian Andersen, are scheduled to meet with a Philadelphia branch of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which will decide whether to execute a final order of removal (Tanumihardja had lost a legal battle for asylum that lasted nine years).
In February, Tanumihardja was granted a reprieve from deportation — one so last-minute that his return flight to Jakarta was only three hours from departing when immigration officials postponed his removal. That decision followed an emergency plea by advocacy groups, including GLAAD and Stop the Deportations.
In June, the couple married in Washington, D.C.’s Lafayette Park, just north of the White House, and, soon after, filed a marriage-based green card petition.
Gay immigration advocates and their congressional allies are asking the administration to provide concrete discretionary guidelines on LGBT couples for immigration officials working in the field — guidelines that could be crucial in cases such as Tanumihardja’s.
On August 18, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced that DHS had initiated an intra-agency working group tasked with a case-by-case review of pending deportation orders. An unnamed senior administration official later clarified in a conference call with reporters that cases deemed low-priority can include those of individuals with "strong community ties, with community contributions, and with family relationships. We consider LGBT families to be families in this context."
Written policy on the matter has yet to be issued, however. It’s also not yet known what steps, if any, the administration has taken to ensure that immigration officers use prosecutorial discretion in cases involving LGBT families. Tanumihardja and Andersen’s attorney, Lavi Soloway, wrote last month that during a scheduled check-in with ICE on August 25, the officer handling Tanumihardja’s case was unclear how to proceed with the new guidelines and postponed a decision until October 7.
Last week, a group of 69 lawmakers led by Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi called on Napolitano and Atty. Gen. Eric Holder to include specific guidance on LGBT families in the working group’s review of more than 300,000 pending deportation cases nationwide. “The vulnerability of LGBT immigrants — the historical stigmatization of whom both within and outside the U.S. is well-documented — makes knowledgeable review a necessity,” the group wrote.
Tanumihardja and Andersen also have reached out to their congressional representatives for support. A spokeswoman for Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey had previously confirmed with The Advocate that the senator’s office had been in contact with the couple but declined to provide any specifics. “Senator Casey does support keeping families together whenever possible,” the spokeswoman said.
Read more on Tanumihardja’s case at GLAAD.
Below, CNN's February report on Tanumihardja and Andersen.