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Twelve-Year-Old Daughter of Deported Man Pens Open Letter to President Obama

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The following is a press statement from PICO Network:

Sandoval Family Offers One Painful Example of the Broken Immigration and Deportation System

Nayelly Sandoval is a 12 year-old American citizen and a gifted basketball player who was recently denied the chance to say goodbye to her father — who was deported without notice in the middle of the night.  In a letter addressed to President Obama, Nayelly shares details about her special relationship with her father and how she wants to have him back with her and her family.

She writes:

Mr. President, I want you to know that what I am going through is really hard. I just want my dad here. My dad has everything here in Kansas City, he has dogs, house, car and a great family.  His home is right here. We need him here so we can be [a]whole family together again, and things can go back to normal.

Nayelly’s father is Josue Sandoval, a loving husband, father of two children, and parishioner at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Northeast Kansas City, Missouri. He was deported after 15 years of living, working, and paying taxes in the United States. Josue would have been eligible for citizenship under legislation currently pending.

Josue was detained after a workplace raid on January 15, 2014 and held at a local facility where he was denied the ability to shower or change his clothes for over a week. He developed a painful infection and was refused proper medical treatment until he was transferred to an ICE detention center on January 23rd. On Monday, January 27th, Josue’s attorney filed a stay requesting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) exercise prosecutorial discretion based on Josue’s good moral character, length of residency, and family ties.  The following Wednesday, local clergy hand delivered a letter to ICE in support of Josue, but were turned away. Outraged by Josue’s looming deportation, more than 350 people from the Kansas City faith community rallied in support of the family.

On Thursday evening, advocates for Josue were assured by ICE officials in DC and locally that his case was under review. Yet the same day, the process of deporting Josue was already under way and his family was never notified until he was already in Mexico. ICE officials ignored protocols laid out in the Morton Memo designed to prevent the deportation of parents of U.S. Citizens and other immigrants who have strong community ties.  Their notice that Josue’s Motion to Stay was denied was not faxed until Friday.  It shows in black and white that ICE failed to take into account his long residence in the country, and his family and community ties in their review of his case.

Josue was left in an extremely dangerous part of Mexico, a country where he has no living immediate family. Kidnappings, murder, robbery, and other abuses are very common fates for the recently deported. He was deported to Mexico without any clothes, except what he was wearing when detained.  He had no money, except for the few dollars in his account at the detention facility where he had been held and no way of contacting his family in Kansas City.

Given the lack of due process and horrible conditions under which Josue was detained and deported, advocates are asking for Josue to be returned to his family in the United States.

Rev. Dr. Emanuel Cleaver III, a clergy leader with Communities Creating Opportunity and Senior Pastor with St James United Methodist Church in Kansas City, said:

Our hearts break for Josue and his family. They are children of God and deserve better from the country they love. We are appalled by the way this deportation was handled. We pray for forgiveness for those who made this choice and we ask for accountability from them.

Eddie Carmona, Campaign Manager for PICO National Network’s Campaign for Citizenship, said:

If a family man like Josue can be deported without due process, no mixed status family in this country is safe from being torn apart by ICE.  That sends chills down the spine of our community and should shame an Administration that claims to be on the side of immigrant families.  It is time that the White House recognized what we see every day in our communities, that prosecutorial discretion has failed.  We need a DACA-like program for men and women who would be eligible for legal status under pending legislation.

Unfortunately, Josue’s case is just one story of nearly two million under the Obama administration. Every day, thousands of families are torn apart by deportation, and like Josue, many of these deportees would qualify for legal status under legislation being considered by Congress.

Congress needs to act, without hesitation, to address the broken immigration system that plagues families and communities across the country. At the same time, President Obama should use his executive authority to prevent the deportation of people like Josue while Congress continues to play politics with the lives of Americans impacted by deportations.

Read Nayelly’s handwritten letter to President Obama or a transcribed version