Dear Friends and Colleagues,
This is a personal letter to you–not talking points or messaging provided by a DC lobby group, but my own heartfelt words.
This Memorial Day weekend we honor the men and women who fought and died for our country. There are many ways we must honor their sacrifice. One way is to participate in the Democratic Process. That means getting involved to make our country better.
One of the great issues confronting our nation today is Immigration. We have over 11 million aspiring Americans who live, work and raise their children in America, but who live in absolute fear in the shadows right in our own communities. The lack of an updated immigration law from our Congress means that local, state and federal agencies are left to enforce the broken law as it exists today.
As someone who works closely with the NE Ohio Latino immigrant community, as I’ve done for over 20 years, I want you to know that this has created a devastating humanitarian crisis. We have seen record-breaking deportations, about 2 million nationwide. Mothers, fathers, grandparents and even youth are being forced into a frightening system of arrest, prison and ultimately cruel separation from their own children and beloved families. Over 5 million US Citizen Latino children have at least one undocumented parent. There are no words to describe the pain felt by a family when the mother or father is deported. I also need to tell you that things are getting worse—people in my community are dying.
Last year, two Painesville men were deported after traffic stops. One left behind a wife and two children, and the other a wife and four children. The separation and permanent ban from re-entry was too much to bear, so they braved the harsh conditions to cross the desert to reunite with their families. The partially decomposed remains of David Lomeli, father of two, were found in the Arizona desert months later. Last week, the skeletal remains of Salvador Montes, the father of four, were positively identified through dental records. His remains were found near his cousin’s. David Lomeli is on the Border Deaths Database, which people are increasingly referring to as deported immigrants risk their lives to come back to their families in the US. Now six children in Painesville have lost their dads. And there are many more here in NE Ohio–too many to tell about! How many more will need to die before we stand up?
Last month, Oscar Antonio Rocha, an Ashtabula father of five who I personally knew, died in a horrid immigrant detention center in Youngstown, where he sat helplessly for five months, lawyers just siphoning money from his family. He, too, was deported after a traffic stop, crossed back to be with his family, was caught and charged with “re-entry after deportation,” punishable by up to two years in prison. Perhaps the anguish from his futile situation drove him to suicide. He was to be sentenced May 1st.
Friends and colleagues, I urge you to heed our pleas for help. The community that HOLA represents is suffering enormous pain and hardships. The family is the very core of humanity—and our broken immigration law is causing sacred bonds to be ripped apart. We can only guess what the long term repercussions are for the Latino community. But I already see the devastation in our weekly meetings.
I am asking for you to stand in solidarity with us in urging our members of Congress to ACT NOW on a just and humane immigration law; to ensure that it passes THIS YEAR without any more delays or harmful rhetoric about immigrants or Latinos. Congress is in recess this week, which means they are back in Ohio. Let’s fill the media with reports about the Latino community demanding action now. Please take time from your busy schedule to help me by participating in a March & Rally on Wednesday, May 29, 2013. We are gathering at the Free Stamp in Willard Park in Cleveland at 11 AM, then marching at noon to Public Square for a rally. I’ve attached a flyer with details. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. I need your help now more than ever. The children need you. The families need you! Let’s demonstrate the urgent need for action.
I know that when needed, the Latino community comes together and that you will not let us down. I also know I can count on the African American community to stand with us, and our allies in the social justice community. Please help me by forwarding.
Thanks so much.