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Deporting Love: A Married Couple’s Journey to Stay in the United States

On November 28, 2005, Enrique Gonzalez walked across the border to pursue a safe and prosperous life in the U.S. Afraid of gang recruitment in El Salvador and seeking to escape to a safe place with opportunities to work to help himself and his family, after two days of processing and detention, he was taken (by immigration officials) to a Texas bus station where he was left to find his way in what would become his new home, the United States of America. Thirteen years later, with a U.S. Immigration approved marriage to a citizen, Enrique is being deported.

In the January 2017 Executive Order, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, the Trump administration laid out a much wider dragnet authorizing and empowering ICE in the deportation of undocumented.  Unlike the discretion of the Obama Administration, as evidenced in the 2011 Memo, which exercised a great deal of flexibility the Trump Administration's laser-sharp focus is on the numbers! Every undocumented …

Indy Kids in Limbo - Father Deported - Mom Deports Sunday

I had the most heartbreaking experience today as I attended the "moving sale" of Erika Fierro and Family. An Indiana family tortured by immigration with a deportation imminent. It was all too surreal to meet Erika today, the mother of two who awaits her departure in only days.  With the family's personal property strewn across tables and the lawn of a church, tears welled up in her eyes as we discussed the inhumane treatment she, a 30 year resident of the United States and Beech Grove High School graduate, had endured during the various check-ins with ICE. Simply stated, Erika described her interactions and treatment as " without basic dignity."

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After already deporting the father of the couple's two young children into harm's way of Mexico, officials are set to force Erika to leave a week from Sunday, leaving behind her two young kids until they have received their passports to travel and rejoin the family. Unclear who will care for her children while in the US, Erika must join her husband in Mexico in an area she described as dangerous. 

Sister Tracey Horan of FaithInIndiana, a non-profit advocacy group was also at the Fierro "Moving Sale." We talked briefly about the horrific situation that is happening to innocent families all over the nation. As I shared our intent to explore opportunities to bring Federal lawsuits against the administration, she cautioned - "Wearing people down so that they don't challenge this administration is a strategy they deploy." She described the tough battle that is ahead to fight the inhumane transgressions that are occurring on an increasing basis. Still, in disbelief for our own struggle and the plight of so many, I asked, "Can you believe this is what we're facing in the 21st Century America?" She answered, "Yes! I can! I'm not surprised anymore at all."

I took a moment of pause as I gazed at her while attempting to process all that she must have endured in her prominent role as an advocate for immigrants and poor. Her outwardly calm stance in an otherwise shattering day in our nation's history made me realize the gravity of what we face. For many still surprised by the crimes the government has unleashed against people and cultures not from within the U.S., the reality has yet to set in. For those of us whose lives have been destroyed by this administration, we see ethnic cleansing - we see the whitewashing of America.

While both Erika and Sister Tracey was busy selling the possessions of the Fierro family, Sr. Tracey turned to me and said, "She doesn't even know how to tell her son she has to sell his bicycle today." Tell me how this is acceptable behavior in communities all across the nation.

Astonished by what I had just witnessed, and having already started the process of selling our personal possessions too, I struggle to wrap my head around the evil that has been unleashed in this country. While there are laws for appropriate procedures for entering the country, treating people, who we enabled to be in the country for decades, with less than equal dignity, is unconscionable. What is more, is the inhumane separation of families unjustly (as in the case of the Fierros).  

The criminals currently whitewashing America are the politicians and everyday citizens who have voted for this inhumane and uncivilized administration. In the case of families who have been in this country for more than one year, the nation must consider Amnesty. We simply cannot rip people from their lives, communities, jobs, companies, and families. 

What is broken and needs immediately fixed are the nation's laws on immigration. We must remove immigration from the single-handed power grab and control of the Department of Justice and Jeff Sessions and mandate that immigration oversight (leadership that has the power to affect millions of lives), must be moved to a bipartisan congressional oversight. We must restore judicial powers to immigration judges, allow for the proper adjudication of every case (with judicial discretion), and return to permitting both Stays and Administrative Open and Closure as tools to enable every case the proper mechanism to fix outstanding concerns. 

We must STOP separations and deportations immediately until a fix is made. And, frankly, this nation must reunify the families it has torn apart with restitution for all the lost property, employment, income, and disparaged reputation. And for those who have paid into the US tax coffers, as a demonstration of "good moral character" as demanded by the IRS code (which they promise, would have been a consideration of future legalization efforts), we must consider the sacrifice.

What is broken are the laws. Where is the demonstration of "good moral character" from our nation's leaders?

Erika and the Fierro Family - On behalf of your brothers and sisters in the United States, we stand with the Fierro family! I am so thankful to have briefly met you. I've been emboldened by your courage the past weeks I've followed your fight. I'm so very sorry you and your family have, and are still, enduring the nightmare of Trump, Pence, Sessions, and GOP and most importantly, the blind and hate-filled voters! Enrique and I know what you are feeling and what you've endured. Our hearts are with you and the countless other beautiful Hispanics ravaged by such bullying and hate. 

Sister Tracey Horan - I hope to get to see you again soon! Your work is important! Your faith is admirable! We need you! Many need you! THANK YOU!!!