Willard, OH – Jesus Lara Lopez, an Ohio taxpayer and father of four U.S. citizen children, was deported this morning following a tearful goodbye with his family. Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, responded with the following statement.
It’s a sad, sad day when the most powerful nation on earth deploys its colossal power to crush a man, his children and their dreams. Jesus Lara Lopez, an immigrant from Mexico, came to America with the same dream as anyone – to find opportunities, work hard and support his family.
Today, our very own government – using our tax dollars – chose to impose its power not on criminals, not on terrorists, not to improve public safety. No, today our government, under a deportation push authored by President Trump, deported a hardworking family man and father of four American children for the worst possible reason: because it can.
Jesus Lara came to this country in search of a better life some 20 years ago, like millions before him. After all, America has long said to the world that we are a beacon of hope, opportunity and justice for all; we are a nation unlike any other; the American Dream is your dream; our values should be your values; our fight, your fight.
And so he came. And planted deep roots, got a job, paid his taxes every year, married his sweetheart, started a family and bought a home. He was a great neighbor, a cherished father and a faithful churchgoer. Not a “bad hombre.” Not a rapist or murderer. Just a man seeking a better life. Until the Trump Administration decided they had a different vision for America. A vision that has come into sharper focus with the deportation of Jesus Lara. And it is a desolate and dark vision.
Trump has found a willing accomplice in this mass deportation agenda in the person of DHS Secretary John Kelly. Once thought of as a rational player by some, he’s proven to be the lackey that Trump, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and Attorney General Jeff Sessions want. Kelly has, in the words of Sean Spicer, “unshackled” ICE and CBP agents. He hides behind the specious excuse that because the law permits it, it has to be done. He tells Democrats in Congress to “shut up” if they question his agents. He blames them for not changing the law, as if his Republican party’s intransigence is their fault.
Under Donald Trump, John Kelly and the cowardly GOP Congress, America is no longer a beacon of hope, a second chance, a new life. America is no longer the land of the free, the home of the brave. The new mantra coming from our leaders is ‘we don’t want you here; you don’t belong; we don’t need you.’
America was founded on the idea of freedom; that all men are created equal; that we are a nation that is formed and transformed by many into one: E Pluribus Unum. New Americans have always been a centerpiece of American greatness – until now. All continents, all peoples, all faiths have made the arduous journey to be American. Now, Trump and his rabid deportation force have put mendacity and the crushing power of the government to work – not to deport bad people, but to cleanse the nation of people who ‘aren’t like us.’
Trump’s mass deportation agenda has very little support from the American people. The recent 40,000-sample PRRI poll found a combined 79% of Americans backed either a path to citizenship (supported by a whopping 64% of the public) or permanent legal residency (15%) for a total of 79%. Only 16% supported the option embraced by the Trump Administration – identifying and deporting undocumented immigrants.
Jesus Lara is more American than many Americans. As one of his neighbors noted, ‘America could use more citizens’ like Jesus and his family. Unfortunately, his neighbors learned the hard way. Jesus Lara is just the tip of the Trump iceberg. He has exposed an ongoing strategy that undermines our values, our faith and our economic well being.
Wake up America. The hour is late. Jesus Lara is a man who has been ripped away from his family, and an example of what is wrong with Trump’s America. And it is our responsibility — your responsibility — to fight for our families and our values before it is too late. Is this really how you want our government to act on your behalf with your tax dollars – to deport a family man, taxpayer and churchgoer and abandon his family? Does this make you feel good about yourself and your country? Jesus Lara isn’t the first and sadly won’t be the last person to be deported from the country they call home, the United States of America.
History is watching us. We either wake up and stand up today, or we will look back with regret in the future. There is a better way. The Administration should use its lawful discretion to grant reprieves to those with deep ties and strong equities. The Congress should insist on the use of discretion, and eventually, enact legislation that create a humane, fair and enlightened policy for those who already make this country great. Our country deserves better. Jesus Lara and his children deserved better today.