National Briefs: USCIS: New York

New York sees help for binational couple and a campus crusade


Legislators step in for binational New Yorkers

A New York-based, same-sex binational couple – an American and a South African – facing separation due to possible deportation of the South African, learned this week that they have staved off that possibility, at least for a year.

According to the group Immigration Equality, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer and Rep. Tim Bishop, all New York Democrats, announced Monday, Feb. 10, that their efforts on behalf of the couple, American Edwin Blesch and Tim Smulian, prompted U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to grant Smulian ”deferred action” status, allowing him to remain in the U.S. legally for another year.

”I am relieved to hear that Tim and Edwin are no longer living in fear of separation at a time when they need each other the most,” said Sen. Gillibrand, making reference to Blesch’s poor health.

Blesch suffers from spine disease and kidney malfunction, and suffered a mini stroke and underwent heart surgery in January. Smulian has been Blesch’s caretaker for everyday needs. The two were married in South Africa in 1999.

”We are enormously relieved that the threat of separation which has been hanging over our heads for so long is gone for now,” the couple said in a statement.

Effort underway to boot Chick-fil-A from NYU

More than 5,000 have joined a Change.org campaign urging New York University (NYU) to eliminate Chick-fil-A as a campus food vendor after tax forms revealed that the chain has donated nearly $2 million to anti-gay organizations.

Hillary Dworkoski, a freshman at the university and the campaign’s creator, says that NYU’s support of a company that funds anti-gay groups undermines the university’s diverse campus community and is inconsistent with its values.

”Out of all the schools I applied to, I picked NYU because I felt like I could truly fit in with the diverse and accepting campus community,” said Dworkoski. ”I was disturbed to find out that not only was NYU supporting an extremely anti-gay company, but it was also home to New York City’s only Chick-fil-A restaurant. I knew I had to do something.”

According to Equality Matters, IRS 990 forms reveal that Chick-fil-A’s charitable arm, the WinShape Foundation, donated almost $2 million to anti-gay groups in 2009. This money has supported a number of groups – including Focus on the Family, Exodus International and the Family Research Council – opposed to LGBT equality.

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