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Nearly a year after his deportation to Honduras, a new effort to return Pastor Max to his family in Iowa has begun.
Rep. Dave Loebsack, from Iowa’s Second Congressional District, yesterday introduced legislation aimed at reuniting the Pastor with his wife Gloria and their four US citizen children in the United States.
Pastor Max’s arrest and deportation in March of last year — part of an ICE sweep of some 2,000 immigrants nationwide — sparked massive outrage and gained both local and national attention.
As beloved faith leader in his Iowa City community for two decades, Pastor Max should not have been considered a high priority for removal under the immigration enforcement policies outlined in a November 2014 memo from Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Johnson.
So when ICE immigration officials refused to weigh all the merits of his case, Pastor Max’s supporters gathered tens of thousands of petition signatures in his support, with hundreds more marching the streets and another 400 faith and community leaders calling for his immediate release from detention.
But despite the flood of support from his community and others around the nation, ICE officials refused to listen and deported Pastor Max early on a Friday morning.
After his deportation, Pastor Max spoke exclusively to Univision about his detainment and deportation, where he pleaded with President Obama to allow him to return to his children and the only home he’s known for some 20 years:
“President Obama, I know that you have a heart, I know that you are a father, husband…How would you feel? Can you put yourself in my shoes for a moment?”
Pastor Max’s supporters in his community refused to give up his cause after his deportation, uniting together with his family as “Friends Of Pastor Max” to highlight his case as an example of the flawed application of immigration enforcement policies.
Now following Rep. Loebsack’s legislation, Pastor Max’s supporters hope they’re a step closer to reuniting him with his children. We’ll continue to update here as more details about the roll-out of the legislation come out.