In an emotional video filmed last night, Pastor Max Villatoro’s wife and their four U.S. citizen children directly pleaded to President Barack Obama to halt Max’s deportation and let him return to his family and community in Iowa:
“I need my husband back. My kids need their dad. I’m so scared, I don’t know what I’m going to be doing without him. I’m scared for his life, too. Because if he’s taken to…if he’s sent to Honduras, he fears for his life.
I need your help tonight. I ask you for mercy. I ask you that you please give me my husband back. You can use your authority. And I ask you to please have mercy and do something about it.
This has to stop. This shouldn’t be continuing, separating families. We’re trying to help other families as Pastors here in our community, and now our family is broken.”
Despite nationwide outcries and more than 25,000 petitions in support of his release, ICE moved Pastor Max in the dead of night to a detention facility in Louisiana, and could be on a plane back to his native Honduras at any moment.
Gloria tearfully explains that though the Iowa community and faith groups have rallied together in support of her husband, their cries have fallen on deaf ears at ICE headquarters:
“Nobody has heard us. Nobody has paid attention. They want to deport my husband, and he’s been living in the United States for over 20 years.”
In fact, Gloria says, ICE officials were aggravated over the growing community support in Pastor Max’s favor and appeared to be speeding up his deportation as a potential retaliatory measure.
Pastor Max is beloved member of his Iowa community and should not be considered a deportation priority, especially in light of the President’s commitment to keeping families together.
But now this Pastor stands on the brink of being ripped away from his family and only home for the past 20 years.
“You said that you were only going to deport people who were threats to the community,” said Pastor Max’s son to the President in the video. “I don’t think a Pastor, a person who helps out the community, is a threat.”