Youth say keep our families together
Joceyln (bottom row, middle), her father, and five siblings in front of their home in New Jersey.Photo: AFSC / Ester Jove Soligue
When 50 people, 30 of them children, leave Newark, NJ at 6:30 in the morning on a bus to Washington DC, there must be a good reason. The group, organized by the AFSC’s Immigrant Rights Program, was bound for a U.S. Senate briefing. But their core reason was to tell their stories of living through the arrest, detention, and deportation of their loved ones.
Three young people testified at the June 18, 2010, briefing, entitled Immigrant Detention and Family Separation: Not a Family Value. In the packed house were 17 congressional staffers and 13 representatives of advocacy organizations. Co-sponsors included Amnesty International, Families for Freedom, the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, the New Sanctuary Movement of New York and Wind of the Spirit.
From Kadi, 18, came this: “In the year 2002 our mother was deported from the United States of America. Ever since that day our lives have been a rocky rollercoaster. As children who were not even developed enough to understand the situation at hand, we sat back and watched the only woman we knew and trusted be taken away from us.” Listen to Kadi's story.
From another, 16-year-old Jocelyn: “The last time I saw my mother was on a Friday morning, before heading to school. I have not seen her since that day, which was about 3 years ago.” Listen to Jocelyn's story.
After the arrest of his father, Bassidi shared that authorities “put a monitoring bracelet on his ankle. We have become closer to our father after that, and now we want to spend as much time as possible with him. My brother and I join my father when he cuts the grass, or when he goes to prayer. After that my parents went to the court. My father still doesn’t have his paper, he can’t get a job anymore, and he cannot support my mother and us. I hope that this doesn’t happen to another family, and that this story can make Congress change the law.” Listen to Bassidi's story.