Dear DHS, Please Stop Thinking You Define My Community and Family

Dear department of Homeland Security,

I know that on October 5, 2012, you issued a memorandum clarifying the criteria for what qualifies as “family relationships involving long-term, same-sex partners” in terms of prosecutorial discretion [You can find the memorandum here].

The considerations according to you, DHS, for which same-sex relationships could be viewed as “family relationships” include:

  • are each other’s sole domestic partner and intend to remain so indefinitely,
  • are not in a marital or other domestic relationship with anyone else; and
  • typically maintain a common residence and share financial obligations and assets

While part of me wants to say: good, you recognized a certain type of family, and you didn’t base it off of marriage, which is something not everyone has access too. I’m sure that this will be a useful tool for some people defending their rights to remain with their families. After all, that is what this memo is, a tool; and you and I both know that a tool is only as good as the person using it.

On the one hand, there is you, DHS, saying you will only deport certain people, those with criminal backgrounds, or who have entered the country with out inspection, have been deported, and entered again, or who according to you are a danger to the U.S. Your criteria does not take into account that some people, like Mario de la Rosa who were deported in the past came back because without them their families could not survive. How can that situation, of needing to support your family, make you a priority for deportation? In a system were being accused of a crime can get you deported, even if all the charges are later dropped and you have a case for asylum due to death threats, like Andy Mathe did, we can see how broken this tool you use for measuring who should and should not get deported really is. There are many people whose names and petitions you can find at, on facebook and other websites.

While under your hands, DHS, prosecutorial discretion gathers dust, there are people like organizers of IYJL, DreamActivist, Georgia Undocumented Youth Alliance, and various organizations across the country fighting the deportation cases of many individuals, exercising pressure to get you to use that prosecutorial discretion tool more and more. Making public what many times goes on behind the walls of detention centers, that Immigrant and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has a goal of deporting 400 000 people a year, which seems to take precedence over people’s stories and flives.

So while I say, ‘good’ in terms of the clarification about what constitutes as family, I also say that I, and the groups I have worked with, will fight the deportation of every person who wishes to do so. With whomever they define as family. Whether this is their two lovers for life, for a short while, or the person they choose to spend their life or their evening with, even if they don’t live with each other.

One thing I have learned by being isolated from my own family in Mexico is that family can be cultivated from acquaintances that become friends that become family. The people that surround me are my family whether they are blood related or not, no matter what their identities or occupations, sexual orientations or gender identities.

Dear Department of Homeland Security, you don’t get to define families when you are breaking them apart every day. So we will use this tool for the families that fit into your definition, but we will also keep pushing you and creating other tools for our community’s survival, and we will keep fighting.

Signing with love for my families,


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