Here’s what we know so far about Max Villatoro, a beloved pastor facing imminent deportation from his Iowa home of more than two decades:
Late last Friday we learned that during the dead of night, Pastor Max was transferred to a detention facility in Louisiana. Louisiana is commonly the last U.S. stop before detained immigrants are deported from the country — and Pastor Max’s wife Gloria and their four children are fearing the worst.
This is all despite national rallies and more than 40,000 petitions to ICE demanding Pastor Max’s release. In fact, Gloria believes, ICE officials have speeded up Max’s deportation in response to the overwhelming backlash from the community.
As a result, Gloria and her four U.S. citizen children have taken their pleas directly to President Barack Obama in an emotional, video testimony:
“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.”
Fellow members of their Iowa community, including faith leaders, educators, and friends, have also started filming their own appeals to the President to halt Pastor Max’s deportation. All of the videos are available for viewing and sharing here.
If you’d like to help, the single most important thing we can do is to keep the heat on ICE and flood their offices with messages in support of Pastor Max. Call (202) 732-3000 and tell ICE to release Pastor Max and let him return to his Iowa community where he belongs.
We will keep this space updated with news about Pastor Max as it comes in.
3/17 Update: Today, Pastor Max Villatoro’s new immigration lawyers, David Wolfe Leopold and Associates, filed an emergency motion to reopen his deportation case with the Board of Immigration Appeals. Read more here.