The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. Sign-up for these emails here.
There is something special in the air at this time of year that binds us together. People are traveling with bulging suitcases full of thoughtful gifts. Homes are decorated with lights, trees stare out of windows and seasonal tablecloths have come out of the closet. Menorahs gradually grew brighter and have now been packed away. The Kwanza celebration of family, community and culture will soon begin. Anticipation of the coming New Year has us thinking about new ways of being in the world.
Some of us are joyful, expectant, and filled with hope. Others are facing difficult realities and memories that make this season hard. Then there are those who have a leg in both worlds. One such family is the Love family in Utah. (That is their real name!)
The Love family is at serious risk of being torn apart by our immigration system. Ms. Love has been in the United States for 16 years, paid her taxes, gotten married, and had three children (all citizens). But years ago, when she was denied asylum and told to go back to Guatemala, she did not. She had a job and high hopes for a future in the United States, and was scared of the political upheaval and violence in Guatemala, so she stayed.
In April, Immigration and Customs Enforcement apprehended her. This holiday season, Ms. Love is at home with her family wearing an ankle bracelet that has given her chemical burns. They are fretting because they have spent all their expendable money on lawyers and fees for filing immigration forms. They have seen two sets of parents in their neighborhood deported, with their children being left behind. The future is unclear and there are very few paths forward that will keep the Love family together. But their faith in the teachings of Jesus Christ have them looking forward to a Christmas season filled with love, peace, and wisdom. Despite the challenges they face, they maintain hope.
The Loves are just one example of the many ways immigrant families face separation. Many immigrants are in detention centers, isolated in communities that are unwelcoming, or unable to travel freely because they lack the documents they need.
We can change this. 2010 can be the year that we reform our immigration system and ensure that immigrant families are not broken apart.
This holiday season, as we enjoy the blessings of togetherness, let us take action so immigrant families can enjoy those blessings in the years to come.