Heartbreak and Hope

Josue, with his wife and children

While the community rallied on his behalf last Friday in Kansas City, Josue Sandoval Perez was being forced across the border by two armed guards.

Though Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told Josue’s attorney that his case was still pending and that he was in Missouri, the reality was that, in the middle of the night, they came to his cell, packed him on a plane, and set him to one of the most dangerous parts of the world with nothing but a few dollars and the clothes he was wearing when he was detained.

His kids never got a chance to say goodbye.

Josue is a family man with two American children. He came to this country from Mexico 16 years ago to join his wife and young son, to build a better life for their family. They have lived in Kansas City ever since. Josue provided for the family, went to every one of his daughter’s basketball games, and loved teaching his son how to fix cars.

For all 16 years, Josue and his wife paid taxes to a government that neglects to recognize their right to be a part of the community and country they love.
“ICE’s decision to deport Josue Sandoval Perez forced a good family to pay a scarring price for our broken immigration system. In this case, two more American children will now go through life without the presence of their father.”

 

– Rev. Dr. Emanuel Cleaver III, senior pastor at St. James United Methodist Church

The border is a dangerous place for people in Josue’s situation: kidnappings, murder, and other abuses are common. Because of ICE’s lack of transparency, Josue’s attorney and family had practically no information regarding the deportation, including where Josue would be sent.

Sara John, CCO’s immigration organizer, spent the night on the phone with her contacts in Mexico, getting people out in the streets to shout Josue’s name, trying to locate him in shelters. Meanwhile, his family in Kansas City wept, consumed by fear and sadness. He was gone.

We eventually learned that Josue spent the night hiding in a bus station in northern Mexico, with 5 other deportees, as gunfire rocked the streets around them. No one could sleep out of fear of being accosted.

Josue has no living relatives in Mexico. He is a nonviolent family man, but ICE chose to put him in a situation that violated his dignity and placed him in terrible danger. In the process, the community was misled and our voices ignored. This is outrageous on far too many levels.
Our hearts break for Josue and his family. They are children of God and deserve better from the country they love.
As people of faith, we cannot be silent. We are called to bear witness to God’s command to love our neighbor, seek justice for the mistreated, and defend the sacred dignity of every person. We pray for forgiveness for those who made this choice and we ask comforting grace for Josue’s children.

As we lift our voices in prayer, we know that our work is far from over:

  • We will continue to seek accountability for this highly questionable deportation.
  • Our struggle for legislative solutions that recognize the dignity and contributions of immigrants in this country continues.
  • And we will continue to stand with Josue and his family, who need our community’s support now more than ever.
We will have much, much more to announce in the coming days. 
The President has the power to protect our families and stop deportations immediately, but has failed to act. Congress has the power to pass comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship that would address the consequences of a system that has been broken for decades, but the House has failed to act. Our families cannot wait another day.

Thank you for your everything you are doing.

In hope,
Fr. Jeff Stephan
Pastor, St. Sabina Catholic Church
Communities Creating Opportunity

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