Today, America’s Voice Education Fund joined members of the Villatoro and Acosta families in an international video chat to discuss the impact of deportation on American families. The video chat featured Pastor Max Villatoro, Brigido Acosta, and their family members who will be spending this Father’s Day apart. A recording of the chat is available online here.
Pastor Max Villatoro is an Iowa Mennonite Pastor whose deportation case generated widespread community outcry, as well as national media attention. Despite the efforts of clergy members and immigrant advocates to keep him in the U.S. with his wife and four children, Max was deported to Honduras earlier this year.
Brigido Acosta Luis is a father of two U.S. citizens, and husband of Maria Perez, another citizen. But despite hundreds of people taking action to stop this deportation, Brigido was callously taken from his family and sent to Mexico in 2013.
During the chat, Pastor Max and his son Anthony, as well as Brigido and his wife Maria gave a firsthand account of life after deportation and discussed their hopes and dreams for the future.
Joining the call from Honduras, Pastor Max Villatoro said, “I have to come back… I’m going to keep fighting…They took my life away, and if there is somebody there that has feelings, that has kids, or they’re married, please help me. I know that the law says one thing, but what about your feelings? We are human beings… That is the question I ask myself, is somebody there in authority that could do something about it? I know there is somebody there… I know you have to respect the law. But you have to make an exception and go through those cases better and say what’s going on with these people. Can we do something about it? I feel that I am from there [the United States]. I gave all these years to the USA. And I feel like I’m a good citizen and I deserve a better chance.”
Added Anthony Villatoro, 15, “[After his father’s deportation] life was dramatically changed for us four [children]… For my little sisters it’s been very hard, especially for the youngest one. It was very hard for her to understand what was happening, what was going on… For me, I was just really shocked. I didn’t know what to do or what was going to happen. Ever since the deportation, we’ve all been going to therapy at least once a week… We need to tell people how this is affecting us, how this has changed our lives dramatically… We should fight it. We shouldn’t just let this pass by like nothing happened. We need to stand up for what is wrong and tell them that this is wrong.”
Said Maria Perez, a U.S. citizen and wife of Brigido Acosta Luis,“I want people to understand it’s not just the person being deported who is punished, it’s the families, the children, the wife who is expected to continue on her life, pay all the bills, take the kids to school, and keep working. We just have to keep working to change the laws, to make people realize. People don’t realize that even U.S. citizen wives, children, cannot bring back their husbands that easily. We have to keep fighting to change the laws.”
Speaking about the upcoming holiday of Father’s Day, Brigido added, “I’m going to be honest with you. I told my wife and kids that for me, there are no holidays until I’m with them. I’m saving all of them and then when we’re together we’re going to celebrate everything.”
In addition to sponsoring the video chat, America’s Voice Education Fund is circulating a survey for people who have gone through a deportation or know someone who has been deported. The survey is available here.
To view a recording of today’s chat click here.