J.J. Mack shares much in common with 11 million undocumented immigrants living within the United States borders today. Born in Venezuela, he obtained a H1B1 working visa shortly after recently now deceased Hugo Chavez rose to power in 1999. While working and paying taxes like the rest of the country, he also fell in love with an American.
However, J.J. lives not knowing if he will be able to stay with his fiancée. A broken immigration system that even the White House admits to as well as the inability for J.J.’s partner to sponsor him for residency because of the Defense of Marriage Act refuses to recognize their eleven-year relationship because they are of the same sex.Tackling Immigration Reform and DOMA in 2013 from Tom Arana-Wolfe on Vimeo.
“The truth is, for different-sex, binational couples, there are many things that are broken about the immigration system and that can be improved,” explains Tom Plummer, staff attorney for Immigration Equality, “but the foundation of the U.S. Immigration System is really bring families back together. And for U.S. citizens who are in a binational relationship with someone of a different gender, they actually have a pretty good system in place right now to deal with that issue. For same-sex binational couples, they are excluded from that family-based immigration option because of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Long Island Immigrant Student Advocates founder Osman Canales says that it isn’t just same-sex binational couple being pulled apart.
“There are more than 1,500 children that are in foster care because their parents have been deported,” clarifies Canales. “So, we just want to stop that and we do not want more programs that will continue criminalizing our community because the reality is that our community, our immigrant community, are not criminals. They are just here to work. A lot of them contribute to our community.”