Immigration Profile: Is There Room for Redemption?

Photo: ericsphotography / Getty Images

Five year-old Tony Amorim sat with his dad in a van in Danbury, Conn., in 1989. 

“Do you want to come with me,” his father asked him, “or do you want to stay with your mother?”

Tony loved them both, but the boy couldn’t imagine living without his father. 

“I want to go with you,” Tony answered.

Right then and there Tony’s father drove away and took him to the far-away land of Florida. 

Last week, I interviewed Tony, now 28, on the phone. I couldn’t call him directly because he is in Norfolk County Correctional Center awaiting his deportation hearing scheduled for today. 

Tony’s voice was tight. He was eager to share his story — his whole story.

On the face of it, his case is simple. According to a Notice to Appear, issued to him by the Department of Homeland Security, Tony is a native and citizen of Brazil who entered the U.S. through Orlando, Fla., on a Nonimmigrant Visitor for Pleasure Visa in 1985. In 1995, Tony was granted Lawful Permanent Resident status by an immigration judge. He was 11 years old. In 2004 he was arrested and convicted for possession of narcotics. Four years later he was arrested and convicted again for possession of narcotics with intent to sell and for possession of a pistol.

It sounds like Tony is the poster child for the kind of person who should be deported: two felony convictions and possession of a gun. But you haven’t heard the whole story.

U.S.-Born Kids Of Deported Parents Struggle As Family Life Is 'Destroyed'

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.   

Deportations are Not the Way to Show Respect for Veterans

Photo: Dogtags on the Constitution, Sergey Kamshylin /

Photo: Dogtags on the Constitution, Sergey Kamshylin /

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.

Christians Deliver Petition to Repeal Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's Executive Order

Photo: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer Christopher Halloran /

Photo: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer Christopher Halloran /

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.”

Five Ways You Can Help DREAMers Find Relief

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. 

Detained DREAMer Tells His Story From Behind Bars

Marco Saavedra. Image via

Marco Saavedra. Image via

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.

Crowds Erupt in Praise as Obama Announces Immigration Policy Change

James Colten / Sojourners

Groups rally outside the White House, celebrating Obama's decision. James Colten / Sojourners

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.