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Yesterday, we highlighted the pending deportation of Jorge Ramirez, a San Diego-area Evangelical Baptist minister who strongly identifies with the Republican Party, actively supported President Trump, and has encouraged his U.S. citizen daughter to volunteer for local Republican congressman Rep. Darrell Issa. Today, underscoring the indiscriminate nature of immigration enforcement in Trump’s America, we lift up two more powerful stories of religious community leaders facing deportation.
In the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Bill Torpy’s new column, “Shattered families, broken hearts — America on ICE,”highlights how a church deacon and his Sunday school teacher wife in Marietta, GA, Julio Moran and Anna Escobar, are facing imminent deportation to El Salvador after two decades living in America. Moran and Escobar are in detention and separated from their 17-year old daughter following another example of a “silent raid.”
Torpy’s must-read column, excerpted below, explores how the case is indicative of larger and disturbing immigration trends under Trump.
And in Durham, NC, the local community is rallying behind the case of Rev. Jose Chicas, an evangelical pastor and father of three U.S. citizen children, who is now seeking sanctuary in a local church after facing potential deportation to El Salvador. Among those rallying behind Rev. Chicas and his family is the prominent North Carolina pastor and state NAACP president, Rev. William Barber. We excerpt related coverage below.
Excerpts from Bill Torpy’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution column, “Shattered families, broken hearts — America on ICE:”
Candidate Trump vowed to sweep up the ‘bad hombres’ here in America, the illegal aliens peddling drugs or waging mayhem on our native population. It makes sense. Who wants to import pistoleros, criminales and ‘hombres mals?’ We have enough of our own.
Julio Moran and his wife, Anna Escobar, fit none of those descriptions. Moran, a native of El Salvador, is a church deacon; his wife, also from that country, teaches Sunday school. Both work, pay taxes and have been here two decades. They even accomplished the American Dream, buying a home in Marietta and moving in just last month.
But to federal immigration authorities they’re low-hanging fruit. They weren’t trying to hide. They were desperately trying to become legal and reported dutifully to the feds. On June 13, Julio and Anna, arrived at the immigration offices in Atlanta as they had done for several years. They were called into a room and never left.
Anna sent a few frantic texts to her 17-year-old daughter, Tania, before falling silent. She was taken to the detention center in Ocilla, 190 miles southeast of Atlanta. Julio was taken to the Stewart Detention Facility in Lumpkin, 140 miles to the southeast.
Last Friday, at 2:30 a.m. agents entered his cell and dragged him from his bed and he clung to a post screaming, saying that an attorney was working on the case. He was handcuffed and given a one-way ticket to a country he hadn’t seen in 21 years.
It’s a tactic increasingly employed by ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but ‘ICE’ sounds more badass). Instead of having to go out and round up the bad hombres, who are adept at making themselves scarce, ICE agents increasingly wait for deacons and Sunday school teachers to come to them so they can cuff ‘em and drive up their numbers.
…When asked about ICE’s new strategy, attorney Dustin Baxter, who represents the family, said, ‘Everyone is getting detained. It’s all detention, no discretion, no mercy.’
The couple leaves behind daughter Tania, who was born here and is heading into her senior year of high school, and two other children now in their early 20s who came here when they were small.
Julio and Anna’s story is not uncommon.
…I met with Tania at the Sandy Springs home of Ashley Newman. Anna took care of Ashley’s mother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, for two years. ‘She was the most extraordinary, loving and amazing woman,’ she said.
She also took care of Luz Marti before she died. Dick Marti, her husband, is angry about the arrests. ‘She did not deserve this,’ he said. ‘They had jobs. They bought a house. They were contributing to society. They weren’t criminals. They weren’t drug dealers. They weren’t on welfare. ‘Once the word gets out about these kinds of arrests, they’ll say, ‘Don’t show up.’ It will be an incentive not to cooperate.’
…’I’ll finish high school and go,’ Tania said. Go where?
‘To El Salvador,’ she said. It’s a country she’s never seen. What about your life here?
‘What is life without your family?’ It’s a question being asked all over America.”
Below, we highlight coverage from WRAL and the Durham Herald-Sun about the community support on behalf of Rev. Jose Chicas: As WRAL notes:
Rev. Jose Chicas, who fled a civil war in El Salvador three decades ago, was supposed to leave the U.S. last week. The School for Conversion, a Durham church, welcomed the 52-year-old pastor of Evangelica Jesus de la Iglesias as he continues to fight to remain in the country.
Chicas acknowledges that he has made mistakes in his past, including convictions for impaired driving and domestic violence in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and he said that record likely contributed to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement targeted him for imminent deportation. But he insists that he has changed immensely since he was a young man and wants to stay in the Triangle with his wife and four children, three of whom are American citizens.
‘Today, I stand in front of you asking authorities to reconsider my case,’ he said at a Wednesday morning news conference. ‘I do not want to be separated from my family or my family have a broken unit.’
And the Durham Herald-Sun describes how Rev. William Barber is among the community leaders rallying to support Rev. Chicas:
Barber, president of the NAACP, said his church in Goldsboro, Greenleaf Christian Church, would welcome Chicas’ family and congregation.
He also called on people of all faiths to ‘stand up’ for immigrants.
‘We in America should not be building walls on our southern border … nor should we be using ICE to break up families,’ Barber said.