posted on junio 25, 2009 01:41
TOGETHER FOREVER but not in the United States if you are undocumented.
My name is Larry Love and I am a local activist. I responded as Isabel asked me to comment on the Tribune article about the new SB81 law. I will also have the privilege to speak at the upcoming Unitarian Church witness event on Friday at 5PM at the Galavan Center to bring the human aspect to the immigration issues they will be discussing. We are careful about who we share this information with and my wife will not be attending the event because she is scared she could loose her jobs or have other problems because of minutemen etc...We are both working extra jobs other than our normal full time jobs to prepare for what may happen to our family in the future and to pay for the current legal charges we are incurring. If sharing our story can help anyone else then we are willing to do so.
At 6:30 am on March 18th ICE knocked loudly on our door. I was still asleep and my wife was in the bathroom getting ready for work. I answered the door with a towel wrapped around me and still half asleep and they told me that there was a lady registering cars illegally to my home and asked if I knew her. They showed me a picture and I told them that I had never seen her. At this point they asked if my wife could look at the photograph as well. She did and told them she had never seen this woman. (Now as an instructor in Democracy Schools I would know not to even open the door and to ask for a warrant with her name on it signed by a Judge which was never shown to us)
Then the ICE agents said "We are not here for this woman in the foto we are here to arrest your wife" I went into complete shock and my wife did as well. They let her kiss her 3 American Citizen children goodbye and they let her go to the restroom where I her American Citizen Husband married almost 3 years to her was able to give her a blessing (a prayer) and then they took her away from us... The feeling is hard to describe. It is an empty hurt that is deep in your chest and the fear of immigration is now something I, a white American understand more than most. My 10 year old son cries at night and with the uncertainty, the explanation we can give him is not one of hope nor even that "everything will be ok". Taking a 10 year old away from his mother for 6 months, a year or more is not acceptable, not right and should not be an option.
I called ICE right away and gave them her A # and I was told there was no bail because the deportation order had been issued. They said she would be gone within one day or a week. She called me about 2 hours later and they did let her out on an ankle bracelet like she is a criminal or something (She has no criminal record) in order to apply for and get her passport from her country. I hired a lawyer and after he filed paperwork we were able to get some extensions. We filed the I-130 request for spouse form which does not stop deportation but helps for later. Because there is a possibility that 2 ten year bars can be triggered after she leaves the country. We also filed a Motion to re-open the case and for a stay of deportation. Both of these were denied. Recently they told us to return on Sept 1st because we presented the Motion to Re-open at our last appointment but since ICE denied our petitions we have been told to come back in this Wed the 24th of June to plan travel arrangements. We are trying to file additional paperwork to see what can be done. Your prayers would be appreciated. We don't know if we can file the 601c form waiver request while she is still in the country or not. This is an additional $545 Lizeth did not have money for lawyers year ago and the Lawyer told us he would need $5000 just to start the case and most likely more later. We are normal people and we don't have that kind of money so I was able to get $1200 together and the lawyer agreed to take payments. I understand that we might not be on his priority list if we are on a payment plan so I have tried to do everything I could to make extra payments when I could.
A very disturbing part of her ICE experience was the way they treated people there. My wife was crying not so much for herself but for the way the ICE officers were treating the men. Not only were they handcuffed but they were shackled at the ankles as well. When ICE found out that Lizeth's husband was an American Citizen they started to treat her a bit differently. This in unfortunate in one sense and fortunate in another. I was also upset and disappointed in our government agency that ICE had her sign legal paperwork stating that everything had been explained in SPANISH when NOTHING was EXPLAINED in SPANISH at all.
In 1993 Lizeth came to this country escaping political violence and economic problems and she applied for Political Asylum. She was given a social security number and permission to work and she has never worked under another number or another name. Her political asylum case was denied and she was told she needed to leave (voluntary deportation) She has paid taxes and filed every year for 16 years. Later because she ignored the voluntary order and did not appeal (Which she did not understand) a final deportation order was issued.
With 3 American Citizen children she did not have the Airfare of apx $2,800 dollars to go back to her country nor did she have the money to pay her country's government the $34 dollars for each American Citizen per month (if you are in the country more than 90 days) that adds up to $600 every 6 months and the wage in her town is between 5-8 dollars a day. She also had an ex that was abusive that had been deported to her country and she was afraid of him as well so returning did not look like a good option to her. She had filed a protection order against him. The children had viewed the abuse and he had threatened to call INS if she reported him. Since she could not afford to pay the rent and bills alone this went on too long until she got the courage to leave him which she did.
One option since she did not have family here in the US was to leave the children in the care of the State of Utah and have them go into foster care most likely being split up. To her this was not an option as a mother. Most people that watch the news just say oh well, their here illegally they should not be here they should apply legally. Understand her mother has applied 3 times legally just to come and visit and she has been turned down each and every time. Each time the cost was over $300 dollars and considering that $100 is a months wage that is 3 months of work just to apply and get turned down. She has not even met some of her grandkids so she jokingly said through the tears "I might as well go across the river". On the third visit we had saved enough for me to fly to her country to talk to the embassy to try and get her a visa and they still said no.
Only a small percentage are accepted into the US legally. Many people do not understand how hard it is in some of these countries. Many times these people come from homes that are made from bamboo walls and have a dirt floor without flushing toilets and then they come here and realize it is hard work, long hours, and little or no benefits but life for their children here is better and so they come and they come many times at great sacrifice and danger.
My wife has recently been involved with public education with the benefits of breastfeeding and has received certificates from her jobs regarding excellent attendance etc... My wife recently graduated the FEMA / SL Fire Department CERT course for Emergency Responders and is involved in her community and local Church. It is hard for us to see that we have illegal, undocumented drug dealers down the street from us and that ICE is concentrating on deporting my wife and separating our family when in my humble opinion there are others that should be deported rather than wasting time deporting someone that is a great example of how a citizen should act when many of our real citizens don't deserve what they have. She has the desire to become a citizen and she has attended many public events with me including working on Senator Robles Campaign.
If she had never applied for Political Asylum she would be in the same boat as allot of other undocumented people and most likely safe from ICE since she has had no criminal record whatsoever.
She made the decision to wait until they came and got her. When we fell in love in 2005-2006 we went to a lawyer who told us the best thing to do would be to wait and not do anything until the new President whoever it was got into office. On Sept 9th 2006 we were married in the Salt Lake LDS Temple in a Together Forever Ceremony that was beautiful and later at a reception I was able to sing and play the piano dedicating the song to her and to my new family: an energetic, sharing 7 year old boy, a very cute 10 year old girl that like poems and an intelligent, inquisitive 12 year old boy that was in need of a male figure in his life that was not violent. We are real people. Undocumented people are not just numbers, they not just an economic factor in our way of life, they are real people.
I spoke to Susan with the Unitarian Church and told her my story and about half way through she was crying on the phone. I explained that we are having a hard time paying the lawyer and when my wife is deported I will be short about $1000-$1400 per month just to keep the family together and pay the bills my wife was helping with otherwise we may have to move from a home to an apartment which I would like to avoid since these children have not had a stable environment. We will also loose our medical insurance since she only pays $210 per month at her work and my option is over $600 dollars a month which really is not an option.
Zion's bank has set up a donation account called Lizeth MORALES donation fund.
The bank told us not to publish the account number on any flyers. I don't see myself going out begging for money or handing our flyers unless it is to sell phone cards or something. I told Susan I was not comfortable standing up asking for money at this service because it would look like I was speaking for the wrong reasons. We both have been brainstorming as to how to raise money with some sort of business. We are going to start selling $5 phone cards for $4 dollars and that should help. We have no problem making the needed sacrifices as far as turning off the home phone, spending less on food etc...If we can get a waiver for the 10 year bars that might be triggered then she may only be gone for 6 to 12 months while the paperwork is processed and for her to have her interview at the Consulate. To me that is 6 to 12 months too long. It is also putting her in danger from what she was escaping from in the first place. She does not like to discuss what happened and it is very personal and she is a private person and she does not ask for help from hardly anyone.
Going to Canada is another option that is available since they would accept us but we would need 3 months wages and we need to show we each have marketable job skills. We would rather stay here where my family is so we can have some sort of support system. My family has helped with what they can do.
I am willing to speak to groups about this experience and now as a Democracy Schools instructor we can include this experience with the 8 hours of curriculum for the class. These classes normally are taught for 2 hours every Saturday for a month and you can call Comunidades Unidas to coordinate the training. We can teach these classes in English or in Spanish. These classes are free.
Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day to read our family story. Everyone has a story and all undocumented people live their lives in fear but understand that they also have, desires, goals & needs. They fall in love just like anyone else here in this country. They need to pay rent, they need to go to the dentist, school and the doctor just like everyone else. These people are our neighbors our friends and our co-workers. Know that undocumented people pay sales tax, gas tax, cig tax and in many of the cases work with false social security cards so they pay Federal and State tax as well that they never get back so this money stays in the government coffers. Being here undocumented is equal to a civil crime the same seriousness as a speeding ticket yet many Americans treat these people like criminals when they are not. If they are deported and then come back it becomes criminal.
If we make the grave mistake to deport them all, we will not only separate families but we will destroy what our Country is or should I say what is left of it. What should our Country be? Give me your tired and your poor........There is no such thing as an illegal human being.
Rather than kicking 4 American Citizens and one undocumented mother/wife our of our so called great Country we need to work on immigration reform and pass reasonable legislation that is not unconstitutional and that is humane.
Zions bank has set up a donation account called Lizeth MORALES donation fund and we appreciate and welcome any donations that can be made at any Zions bank.
American Security & Fire, Inc.
(801) 263 6002 Fax (801) 293 0210
Cell (801) 898 6003
Utah Immigrant & Refugee Integration Coalition (UIRIC)
1341 South State St. Suite 211, Salt Lake City, Utah / Office: 801-487-4143 / Cell: 801-898-3923 / Fax: 801-487-4145 / www.cuutah.org