Yesterday, U.S. Congressman Dave Loebsack introduced legislation aimed at uniting deported Iowa City Pastor Max Villatoro with his family. Pastor Max’s case generated widespread local and national attention last year when—despite being a prime candidate for prosecutorial discretion under the Obama administration’s new guidelines—Max was separated from his family and deported to Honduras. Congressman Loebsack’s legislation would allow Villatoro to be issued an immigrant visa or adjust his immigration status to “lawfully admitted for permanent residence.”
Congressman Loebsack’s bill is an encouraging step for Pastor Max’s family and the Iowa City community that stands behind him. It also shines a light on just how broken our immigration system remains and the need for systemic reforms. As a long time U.S. resident, husband to a DACA recipient, father of four U.S. citizen children, and pillar of his community, Pastor Max should not have been a priority for deportation—yet he was separated from his family and sent back to a country he hadn’t seen in 20 years. While this bill should be immediately approved, there are many other families in this same situation and they won’t be helped one by one. We need systemic reforms that allow families to reunite in the United States.
Said Matt Hildreth, Director of Iowa’s Voice, “Pastor Max should be here at home in Iowa with his family. His case shows just how unjust and broken our immigration system truly is. Families like Max’s are separated by deportation every day and it is time that our elected officials fought for a comprehensive solution that keeps families together and fixes the problem once and for all. While we applaud Congressman Loebsack’s legislation, we regret that actions like this have to be taken in the first place. Max should never have been deported, and he and others like him deserve the chance to reunite with their families in America.”