On July 18, 2017, Jesus Lara Lopez, a loving father and provider for four U.S. citizen children, is set to be deported – despite having no criminal record and contributing to his community in multiple ways.
In a new post for Medium, Lynn Tramonte, Director of Ohio’s Voice; Deputy Director of America’s Voice; and friend of the Lara family, writes about Jesus’ pending deportation from the perspective of his oldest child, Eric (age 14) and a recent interview between the family and Miriam Jordan of the New York Times.
Tramonte’s post is excerpted below or available online here.
When I first met Eric, I felt like I already knew him. He is thoughtful and quiet. When he’s comfortable he starts to talk more, and you realize that his mind has been buzzing the whole time.
When Eric grows up, he wants to become a lawyer. He isn’t sure how to do that, so he got out a notebook and interviewed his father’s immigration lawyer to find out.
A visit from the New York Times is not something that regularly happens in Willard. Opening your home to a reporter, and talking about the thing you fear the most in life — in this case, permanent separation from your loved ones — is not routine for anyone, anywhere.
But teenaged Eric, his deeply religious parents, and three younger siblings (Edwin, Anuar, and mischievous Elsiy, age six) did exactly that. Because one day in March, after years of uneventful “check-ins” with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — years of paying taxes, and even renewing his legal work permit obtained through an Order of Supervision — Eric’s father, Jesus, was told to pack his bags and leave.
The day ICE abruptly changed things on the Lara family, Jesus left their office in Cleveland with a tracking device on his ankle and instructions to buy a one-way ticket to Mexico. He went home to his family, vowing to keep the ankle monitor hidden so that his children wouldn’t be scared or embarrassed.
But he had did have to tell them about the deportation. And eventually they saw the ankle bracelet.
Now, instead of going about the regular business of raising four children home on summer break, the Lara family is counting the days until they are separated — with an ugly, beeping reminder right there on Jesus’ ankle.
The Trump Administration has the legal authority to allow Jesus to continue his life with Eric, Edwin, Anuar, and Elsiy in Ohio. But right now, they don’t want to use it.
If you care about these kids, or any kids, you know what the right thing to do is. But even if you can’t or you won’t, at least consider the societal benefits of keeping children together with loving fathers.
According to the Fatherhood Project, a nonprofit program at Massachusetts General Hospital, children who remain close to their fathers are twice as likely to go to college, 75% less likely to have a teen birth, and 80% less likely to spend time in jail.
The right choice — for Eric, his family, and society — is clear. Keep the Lara family together in Willard, Ohio.
It’s not too late for the Trump Administration to stop Jesus’ deportation. They have the tools to do it, and all the reasons they need in the lives of these four American children.