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A final stay of removal was filed today for Jesus Lara — the final request for immigration authorities to continue doing what they have been for the last five years, and allow Jesus to stay in the US with his family. Jesus faces deportation on July 18, even though he has no criminal record whatsoever and would be leaving behind four American children who rely on him for their daily needs.
Jesus’ children have collected more than 35,000 petitions asking Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) to help stop Jesus’ deportation. Advocates have helped the family canvass their small town in Willard, Ohio, building support for his case. Hundreds of people have called Rep. Gibbs’ office, and regional, local, national, and Spanish-language media have all highlighted the family’s story.
Among Jesus’ community, those who know him are pleading with officials to let him stay. In letters of support to ICE, those who have employed him, taught his children, led his church, and lived next to him repeatedly write about what a great father he is, how much he contributes to the community, and how much Jesus exemplifies the American Dream. Jesus may be in the country without papers, they write, but his very nature could not be more American.
Why then, is the government insisting on deporting a pillar of Willard’s community and tearing a beautiful family apart?
You can read the letters of support for Jesus here, or excerpts below:
Mandy Polachek, assistant principal at Willard Elementary School:
These wonderful children obviously come from a very supportive home where Mom and Dad play an active role in raising and caring for the children. I personally believe it would be detrimental to these young children to lose their father to deportation. The Lara family is valuable to not only the Willard City Schools but also the City of Willard.
Deborah Harwood, Supervisor of Special Services for Willard City Schools:
Eric’s parents, Anahi Salinas and Jesus Lara, regularly attend parent/teacher conferences and are present for his annual IEP meetings. They understand the value of a good education and do what is necessary to help their son succeed. They provide a stable family-oriented environment in which Eric can thrive. The preservation of this family unit is critical to Eric’s success and to the success of his siblings.
Rosy Ruiz, Sunday school teacher:
He is a good man and a great father. Jesus undoubtedly portrays all characteristics of a true American. He is a hardworking family man that understands the responsibility that comes with forming part of our nation. I have seen him to be an example to my fellow Americans in the way he provides for his family and contributes to the community.
Jennifer Fidler, neighbor:
Day in and day out, I watch as Jesus goes to work, followed by working on his vehicle, working in the yard, holding up a clean and beautiful home, taking his children places, attending church with his family (not once, but twice) every Sunday…It is apparent how much he loves his family, how hard he works, and how friendly and caring he is. I have admired him and all that he does. I have personally taken it into mind when pushing myself to be the best parent I can be as a single mother. Their family inspires me!
I strongly feel that America could use more citizens as such. It saddens me to think of all that coming to an end. A great family, consisting of many smiles, is about to be ripped apart without a fighting chance. The thought alone, when putting myself in their shoes, is greatly devastating…Jesus has proven to be capable of living as a true American should; better than most I’ve ran across or hear about. If not a man of his standard, what do we classify as worthy? I think the average American, such as myself, can benefit from positive role models like Jesus and his family.
Pastor Silvia Moria:
Jesus has decided to invest where God has planted him, right here! He has bought a house for his family, so his children live a decent and sanitary life…He has earnestly made a living here fulfilling the American dream! I plead that you please revise this case and the circumstances of these four little children. I pray to the mighty God that you are moved to look at the real facts. Since Jesus is not a criminal, it is in the best interest of four US citizen minors to have their father continue to provide for them financially and support them emotionally.
Cindy Metcalfe, produce farmer who employs Jesus part time:
[Jesus] is definitely an asset to our farm business… [He] is a respectful, polite, and hardworking man that contributes a lot to society. It would be in the best interest not to deport this man.
Michelle Gullett, employer, Spherion of Mid Ohio:
Jesus has had excellent attendance and performance . . . he often picks up extra shifts to help out or pick up hours. He works well with others and is a valuable part of our team. Jesus is a pleasure to have in the workplace. If his work permit is extended or renewed, we would be glad to have Jesus continue working with Spherion.