With the first drafts of an immigration overhaul expected to be released this month or next, hundreds of civil rights, health, labor, and religious groups are asking the president and members of Congress to include health care coverage in any legislative package. Read the article here.
Network faithful know too well that mental health challenges know no boundaries - including those families impacted by immigration. This is a subject many don't like to delve into but we need to. In a community assessment several years ago in El Paso, Texas, I will never forget the chilling stories from families with children receiving mental health services, describing the fear they felt when dropping their children off at elementary school, knowing full well that Immigration officers would often be waiting outside the school gates looking for "illegals", as they were derisively called, to deport from the United States. It is hard to fathom the mental health challenges families must face when dealing with these primal, devastating issues on a daily basis.
If the Network is truly a collective voice then we need to do more to embrace the voices of families impacted by immigration challenges and the providers, policy-makers and communities who are committed to meeting their needs in humane ways.
So let's start our commitment by introducing you through video to Pedro, who was only 8-years-old when brought to the U.S. by his parents, Pedro (now married and with a son of his own) is arrested by U.S. immigration authorities in Durham, North Carolina and detained for 19 grueling months. This exceptional new documentary tells one family's story of courage and determination to fight the injustice of current U.S. immigration policies, not only for themselves but for all those who find themselves caught in a web through no fault of their own.
Sometimes something as simple as putting a face to a concept or theoretical discussion changes things. Watch Pedro's story and then share with us your stories of dealing with immigration - either personally or with the families you work on behalf of. The conversation begins now.
Glenn Fogle, the Guzmans' immigration attorney, explains it this way:
- After almost 19 months after being arrested by an ICE "Fugitive Operations Unit" at his home in North Carolina in front of his wife and then 2 year old son, on a removal order he did not even know about, Pedro Perez Guzman has been granted Special Rule Cancellation of Removal (a green card) by Immigration Judge Dan Trimble at Stewart Immigration Court on May 16, 2011. He was released May 17, 2011 after the DHS waived appeal. Pedro finally had his day in court after the Board of Immigration Appeals reversed Atlanta Immigration Judge William A. Cassidy, both on bond denial and a removal order where Cassidy found Pedro ineligible for relief. This needlessly resulted in his prolonged 19 month detention and deprived his wife and young son of their husband and father. Pedro's story has been in national newspapers and is now the subject of a short documentary. This was a very long and hard fought battle and Pedro must be commended for his perseverance in detention while we fought his case.
Indeed, this case has drawn national attention to the inhumanity of immigration detention. The Guzmans' courage and persistence has inspired many, including folks who just months ago knew nothing about the immoral and unjust immigration detention system and its insidious collusion with for-profit prison corporations like Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). While our sick immigration system scapegoated Pedro and robbed his wife and four year old son of nearly two years of his life, CCA pocketed over $77,000 on this one case and the Stewart County government got its own kickback of approximately $600.