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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 …

7/22/2018 - Sunday Morning Coffee: Reflection on Kindness


Sunday Morning Coffee: Reflection on Kindness

I woke up this morning to the following instant message from an unknown former Indianapolis area resident. While inspiring, my heart remains heavy each and every morning as I awake with the looming fear and pain, not just for our own possible deportation but for so many who have already suffered so much. Children torn from their mothers, husbands sent away from the embrace of their wives, families torn apart; this is why we fight.
"Hi Harlon! I have been following much of your story. Unfortunately, my plate is currently overflowing tremendously. Have been traveling between Galveston, Texas, and Indianapolis (Irvington) since April of last year. First for my uncle’s funeral, and then after discovering my father-in-law’s dire situation, working to get him moved here and his home ready to sell. I grew up in Irvington and met my husband of 37 years walking home from Howe HS in 1976. His parents moved to Irvington in 1974. We have had many adventures since then....first of which was moving out of state in 81 (thank goodness!!). We are both extremely liberal (how did that happen????)....parents were conservatives.
We hosted exchange students for 8 years (23 in total). Our son joined the Peace Corps after he completed college. I feel like we’ve done a lot to contribute to the good of our future...raised two great kids who want the same worldview future as us.
The past two years have killed me emotionally. I taught ESL at a non-profit in Baton Rouge for two years prior to us moving to Galveston County. I had several undocumented students in my class, as well as “legals”. I understand their plight, and admire you greatly for your stance!!
Irvington is my home, and have many happy memories from there, even though was happy that we moved away and were able to outgrow the mentality of what the area used to be!!
Hope to get to meet you in person when I’m in town. And know that you and Enrique are in my thoughts!" ~ Anonymous Former Resident

Just two days prior, I received a similar email from a local community leader who is and outreach coordinator for a neighborhood charter school...

"I attended the rally on Sunday for you and your husband as you champion immigration rights. Deporting Love? You could not have stated it better.  When that man got elected president, it sent a ripple effect across my Latinx families. Fear and terror. Our school is close to 30% Latinx and many are undocumented. The majority reside in our neighborhood." ~ Anonymous Neighbor

In addition to this small sampling of the many wonderful messages and calls we have received in support of our efforts, we also received two separate invitations to be included in the recorded history archives of the Indiana State Museum: one to capture our voices on the lifestyle and challenges of Latino families living this historic (and devastating) time in history and, the other, to capture photo, video, and audio compilation of what it's like to live as gay men living in Indiana at this moment and time in the history of the state.  We are honored but it does beg to question, what makes us different?

We've had countless comments on our posts - some hate-filled, others incredibly inspiring, and yes, the majority who feel the topic of immigration is "political!" Many try to shut me down in an attempt to silence me.  In fact, for the first time, I broke my silence in professional circles by mixing my personal life with my professional life in a post on LinkedIn. A top pharmaceutical executive surprised me with a brash insistence that my post did not belong there. According to him, my post about our looming deportation and the struggles that we face every day was better suited to a "news site." Nevertheless, I intentionally posted on LinkedIn because it is my belief top executives, human resources managers, employers, and other professionals should all be aware of the injustice that is taking place up close and personal. You can't get any more "guy-next-door" than our story.

I'm a former employer, entrepreneur, and inventor myself. Once the CEO of a hi-tech company and formerly the Chief Operating Officer of a 200 employee home health agency, I, Harlon Wilson, a U.S. Citizen married to an undocumented Latino from El Salvador, am being deported [because I will not be separated from my husband under any circumstances].

It has been my hope to engage peer executives in dialog and actions intended to put pressure on lawmakers to do the right thing. Fantasies perhaps, I had hoped to call upon my peer health IT innovators across the globe to explore out-of-the-box solutions for the many challenges inherent in immigration reform. Call it "social innovation," I'd love to sink my teeth into human-centered solutions for the many challenges inherent in immigration reform - a perplexing issue that the nation's leaders have refused to face and fix for decades. 

Last Sunday, we stepped it up a notch publicly taking our immigration battle to the streets. As we were setting up the stage for the "What About Us? Peaceful Resistance Rally for Immigration Reform," a man rode by on a bike up close to the stage yelling, "Get out of here fags! You don't belong here." His sentiments were shared with more than a handful of people who read our story in private neighborhood groups including the Irvington Group on Facebook as well as the eastside neighborhood groups on NextDoor. They wrote, "Get this shit out of here. This kind of post doesn't belong here."

  7/15/2018 - Enrique Gonzalez & Cathy Morris Setting Up the Stage for
"What About Us? Peaceful Resistance Rally for Immigration Reform"
When I spoke, at the rally, my message was clear - we must welcome the immigrants in our community and strive to be kind to one another. While the good opinions of many is truly inspiring and serves as fuel to keep us pushing for reform, the comments of hate, the comments of those who seek to shut us up - those who would have every LatinX person in America criminalized and deported without even an inkling of compassion for the lives they have built, the contributions they have made, and the loving roots they have sewen into our hearts, our minds, our communities, our schools, our homes, our businesses, our friendships, and our relationships - is often painfully unbearable. 

The notion that one human could be so hateful towards another whose only desire is the same as their own (peace, freedom, prosperity, security, love, family, connectivity, hard work and contribution) is beyond me. My husband Enrique Gonzalez and I found ourselves in this place of advocacy not just for ourselves but for the voiceless among us. 

Fueled with unconditional love, kindness, and compassion for those who are facing the unthinkable fear, pain, and loss of a loved one, we raise our fists and we fight to stop the unjust deportations and separations of families.  The time is now for our nation's leaders to address (once-and-for-all) the inhumane and discriminatory laws of immigration in America.

Immigration must be reformed to take 100% of control of the lives of the millions of immigrant people out of the hands of the Attorney General. Legislation must be reviewed with bipartisan oversight. The nation's stance on immigration must be human-centered. The current process and oversight is inhumane, unconscionable, and is tantamount to a white-collar ethnic cleansing of America. Are we really living this insane life or, will we one day wake up from this miserable dream that is America in the 21st Century?

One humanity, one planet, one love. Kindness is the key!