“If they come for him, you have to let him go.”
To this day, my mother’s words still haunt me. Three years ago my fiancé, Eduardo, and I were newly engaged and looking forward to building a life together. Weeks after our engagement, we received the shocking news that Eduardo’s lawyer negligently failed to renew his work visa, leaving Eduardo subject to immediate deportation.
I frantically shared the news with my mother, herself an immigrant. Knowing all too well the brokenness of the U.S. immigration system, my mother understood the gravity of the situation and advised me not to resist and make matters worse if ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents came for Eduardo. It was advice no mother should ever have to give.
So Eduardo and I did the only thing we could do to stay together. Four days later we were married and entered into the grueling, multiyear process to obtain a permanent green card for Eduardo. It was not how we wanted to start our marriage, but people go to great lengths for those they love.
It’s this same spirit of love that radically inspired immigration reform advocates to organize a nationwide fast, “A Fast for Families,” to protest unjust immigration laws and to pray for reform. For more than 30 days, thousands of supporters across the country prayed, fasted, and urged Congress to “welcome the stranger.”
Visiting the Fast for Families tent on the National Mall, I found myself standing on holy ground. The walls – covered with an array of handwritten prayers, supportive messages, heartbreaking pleas and photos – chronicled the lives of families separated by deportation. Together with other fasters, we wept as we shared our stories and our hopes, our fears and our frustrations. And I felt the spirit of God at work in that place.