by Gabriela Garcia
When Immigration and Customs Enforcement director John Morton sent a memo on June 17 stating that individuals should be deported only if they meet ICE’s enforcement priorities, it made clear who doesn’t fit those priorities: immigrants with no criminal records, as well as those brought to the country as children. And yet, a close-knit family that poses no danger to the country found itself on the edge of heart-breaking separation.
Alberto Yanez, who was brought to the U.S. when he was only 1 ½ years old, can remember only this country as his home. The 24-year-old has lived in Los Angeles and Washington virtually his whole life, and is the father of three U.S. citizen children, and has two U.S. citizens brothers. His life has been full of accomplishments: He tested gifted in the third grade, worked full-time while pursuing a degree, and is currently an honors student seeking a career as a pharmacy technician.
But on November 16, 2010, Alberto and his mother, who also has no criminal record and poses no security threat, were detained in their home and placed in a detention center for approximately one month.
The Change.org and the immigrant rights community didn’t take that news sitting down. After reading about the Yanez family’s situation, more than 2,500 of you signed a petition created by Change.org member Richard Hartwell demanding ICE and the Obama administration follow through on their word not to deport DREAMers and their families. Thanks in large part to these efforts, today Alberto’s lawyer announced that he has been granted a temporary stay of removal until January.
That is major progress in the case, and it happened because so many individuals stood up and demanded justice for this hardworking family.
But the fight is far from over: Alberto’s mom still risks deportation and community pressure is needed more than ever to support her case. Sign the petition asking ICE to stick to its word and not separate a family who has built a life here and who needs each other more than ever. If you’ve already signed, please spread the word on Facebook.