New Immigration Reform Policy: Deporting Our US Citizen Children
When we elected Barack Obama as the President of the United States, we thought we were choosing change; we thought we were voting for humane immigration reform; we thought the separation of families would end. Now, less than a year later, we see that we were wrong.
Helen is asleep, dreaming of her lacrosse match the next day, the latest poem she has been working on and her weekend plans with friends from her church group. Suddenly, she is woken up, dragged from her bed at gunpoint and told that none of the things that she has been working toward and dreaming of are possible for her. Helen’s dreams have been interrupted by a living nightmare.
Helen Mejia-Perez was born in 1996 in Novato, California. Her parents had lived in this small Northern California town for five years and saw it as a perfect community in which to raise their small family. As a young child, Helen was full of positive energy and loved to play with her older brother, Gilbert. She and her family enjoyed “spending quality time together, from going to Disneyland to just taking a walk in the park…”
Helen began school at Marin Montessori in 2001. She enjoyed art and was well liked by her teachers and classmates. Helen excelled throughout elementary school and into middle school, flourishing as young poet and exemplary student. One teacher described her as an “outstanding student [who] contributed enormously to her classroom and the whole school… [she] is bright, motivated, independent, and compassionate”. Her friends described her as “a super-fast reader who could read a 500 page book in one day if she wanted to” and smart, but always ready to laugh.
On March 7, 2007, Immigration and Customs Enforcement woke Helen with guns raised and told her to join her family in the living room. Helen had no idea what was happening. She knew her parents as “very hard working [people] [who] have always supported me with my education… taught us to help our community, help our church, and to try our hardest in school”. As she stood shivering in the living room, surrounded by ICE agents, she could not comprehend what was happening to her family.
Helen’s parents, Salvador and Elida, had come to the United States in 1992 with their infant son, Gilbert. They were fleeing the violence that had ravaged their home country of Guatemala and seeking a better life for their baby. They worked hard, bought their home in Marin County, raised three children, learned English, paid taxes and become invaluable members of their community.
Today, Salvador and Elida wear ankle bracelets to alert ICE if they stray too far from their home. ICE agents visit their house weekly. Helen sees the anguished looks on her parents’ faces and knows that she may be about to lose everything she has ever known. 4 year old Dulce does not know what is about happen to her life, although she too senses fear from her parents.
At 1AM this Thursday, Salvador, Elida, Helen and Dulce will report to ICE for deportation to Guatemala. Helen and Dulce are US Citizens by birth. They are about to be torn from their country and taken to a place they have never seen. Helen’s rigorous education will come to a halt, she will be separated from the friends and community that have shaped her life, her friends will miss her contagious laughter and her entire world will be uprooted – and who could explain to her why? She wonders why “other US citizens live happy lives, and then there’s me.” And she’s right to wonder: How does this country benefit from an immigration system that rewards Helen’s hard work and good spirits with trauma and devastation?
Senator Feinstein has refused to save the family by introducing a private bill, claiming not to see “exceptional hardship” to the family, should they be deported. We ask her to read Helen’s story and reconsider her position.
And we ask President Obama, is this the immigration reform you promised? Is deporting US Citizen children your solution to our broken immigration system?
Call Senator Feinstein: D.C.: (202) 224-3841 San Francisco: (415) 393-0707 Los Angeles: (310) 914-7300
“I was calling to ask why Senator Feinstein is not stepping in and allowing for United States citizens to be deported!”
Leave a message at each office and then rinse and repeat in a few hours. We have to make sure Feinstein knows we won’t tolerate this from her.
Sign onto this letter here: http://immigration.change.org/actions/view/feinstein_why_are_you_deporting_us_citizens
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