As a privileged child growing up in suburbia, I could never imagine losing my parents. I am incredibly thankful for the opportunities they gave me, and the love they have poured out on me for as long as I can remember.
“You’ll understand once you have a child, Brandon,” my dad has told me countless times in a sort of sage-like way. Without saying, we both acknowledge that I will not understand the love parents have for their children until I have a child of my own.
But, even if I could not comprehend the love my parents had for me, I am able to understand that I could not be who I am today — more likely, I would not be much of anything — without their presence in my life. And that’s not to say that anyone missing a parent cannot function.
But thousands of children to parents living in the U.S. without citizenship are abruptly forced to carry on without one or both of their parents, as a record number of people are being deported from the U.S. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), nearly 45,000 parents were removed in the first six months of this year.
When I go out with my Dad, he often wears a cap identifying him as a Korean War veteran. Over and over again, people tell him, “Thank you for serving.” Over and over again.
I’m always struck by the contrast between that appreciation and the sad, hidden truth about our country’s treatment of some other veterans. I’m speaking of the government’s detention and deportation of many immigrants who served in our armed forces but who are not yet citizens.
The first time I heard about this was 1998. My friend’s husband, a Canadian who grew up in Texas and chose to serve in Vietnam had recently gotten a deportation order based on some old drug charges, the kind of thing many vets experienced. What horrified me then, and still does today, is that immigration judges could not grant an exception. Nothing could stop the deportation except a change in U.S. immigration laws.
Today, two Christian leaders in Arizona delivered a petition signed by thousands of Christians to Gov. Jan Brewer calling on her to retract her controversial executive order denying driver’s licenses and other benefits to undocumented young people who qualify for deferred action. The petition was signed by members of the Sojourners community and reads:
We believe every person, regardless of immigration status, is created in God's image. Your recent executive order denying driver's licenses and other benefits to undocumented young people who qualify for deferred action is harsh and short-sighted. As people of faith, we urge you to reconsider your position and retract this executive order so that all God's children in Arizona can contribute to your state's economy and strengthen its communities.
Pastor Yvette Lopez of the New Life Church of God in Tucson, Ariz., also helped deliver the petition.
“I’m a conservative, but this is this was the last straw for me,” Lopez said.“This executive order is deplorable, and it must be rescinded; my faith and my politics demand this.”
As many as 1.4 million undocumented immigrant youth — aka “DREAMers” — would qualify for temporary work permits and be shielded from deportation once President Obama's DREAMer relief goes into effect August 15.
I am one of these DREAMers.
I came to this country from Peru when I was five years old. While I miss my homeland, I’ve come also to appreciate and thrive in my new one.
I’ve volunteered in my community at museums, schools, and hospice centers. I’ve had the privilege also of attending one of the top private, liberal arts schools in the nation and now am continuing my education as a mental health counseling graduate student.
President Obama’s DREAMer relief finally will give DREAMers such as me a chance to fully engage in this country. I finally will be able to work and, like the rest of my peers, get to experience the joys and challenges of being gainfully employed.
Editor's Note: A recent news report recounted how activists with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance have placed themselves intentionally in deportation proceedings in order to enter the Broward Transitional Center, an immigration detention facility in Florida. They say they encountered scores of detainees who shouldn't be there under the Obama administration's revised deportation policies. What follows is a first-person account by one of the detainees, Marco Saavedra, a former intern at Sojourners.
I am glad the stories we are finding in this detention center are getting back to you all out there. My name is Marco Saavedra and recently I put myself into deportation proceedings hoping they'd bring me to the Broward Detention Center.
Despite being a DREAMer, the border patrol office I approached looking for a missing friend didn't think twice about detaining me. Little did they know they were doing exactly what we wanted, bringing us to this detention center filled with low-priority detainees.
No one deserves to be locked up like they are inside of this facility.
Dreams came alive today as President Obama granted relief to thousands of undocumented students. While the decision does not create a pathway to citizenship, it eliminates the threat of deportation for many unauthorized students and makes them eligible for work permits.
Sponsored by Casa de Maryland, a number of organizations—Amnesty International, Jews United for Justice, 32BJ SEIU, National Council of La Raza, and the National Gay & Lesbian Taskforce—participated in a rally in front of the White House to celebrate the president’s announcement.
This just in from the Associated Press:
"The Obama administration said Monday it arrested more than 3,100 immigrants who were illegally in the country and who were convicted of serious crimes or otherwise considered fugitives or threats to national security. It was part of a six-day nationwide sweep that the government described as the largest of its kind."
The sweep involved more than 1,900 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and agents. According to ICE, more than 1,000 of the people arrested had multiple criminal convictions. The totals included an estimated 50 gang members and 149 convicted sex offenders, other serious offenses included murder, manslaughter, drug trafficking and sexual crimes against minors. It appears to be a response to earlier suggestions that ICE would not vigorously pursue immigrants who are veterans, elderly, lived in the U.S. since they were children, or have relatives who are citizens of legal residents.
The mix of the modern and the medieval in the life of restricted life of Saul Timisela is dizzying.
Global positioning satellites track every move the Indonesian immigrant makes while he seeks refuge in a church, claiming the centuries-old right of sanctuary from the reach of secular authority — in his case, the federal Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
To ICE spokesman Harold Ort, Timisela is an "immigration fugitive" who's trying to avoid deportation. But to the Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale, pastor of the Reformed Church of Highland Park, Timisela is "walking with Christ into a conflict with power."
The day before the Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale was supposed to meet with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, a tragedy occurred — one more Indonesian immigrant from his congregation was deported.
Like many of his fellow Christian brothers and sister who arrived in the United States in the late 90's and early 2000's, Ferdy Warouf fled Indonesia because of a rise in Islamic extremism that threatened the lives of the Indonesian Christian community.
HIGHLAND PARK, N.J. — Saul Timisela was ordered to report to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Newark early on the morning of March 1 to be deported.
Instead, the Indonesian Christian took sanctuary at the Reformed Church of Highland Park, where the Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale is trying to save a group of Indonesian refugees who fled their country to escape religious persecution more than a decade ago.
Timisela may have felt safe given ICE's historical reticence to raid churches where illegal immigrants are being harbored. But at the same time, he was sorry to say goodbye to his wife of 10 years — another Indonesian Christian who's also in hiding because she has overstayed her visa and does not have an open case with the immigration agency.
Maria, 7, and Lupe, 3, are our next-door neighbors. For some reason, they have decided they like coming to our house. I'm not exactly sure why, we have nothing that I would consider appealing to a 3- and 7-year-old, but they come ... almost daily. Because of this, and our history with their family over the past few years, we have gotten to know their story quite intimately.