It's hard to watch the news these days. It's hard because we see so much suffering in our immigrant community - profiling, raids, hard-working families ripped apart, arbitrary detention, unjust deportations, and the latest anti-immigrant scheme: family separation at the border.
The Trump administration is implementing a policy where asylum-seeking children are taken from their parents and shipped to remote shelters all over the country. Meanwhile, the parent is held indefinitely in a detention facility, and with no information about the location or well-being of their babies.
As we hear these stories, most of us feel the urge to do something, anything. Here is an opportunity to help!
ALDEA - the People's Justice Center is a non-profit in Reading, PA committed to representing separated families and other families in immigration detention. Our mission is to halt the deportation of the parent, secure their release and reunite families. This week, we got very close to accomplishing exactly that with one of our cases - the case of the amazing Blanca Nieve, "Snow White."
Blanca is our super shero. She and her children survived years of persecution in El Salvador following the murder of her husband, a high ranking military officer. When Blanca and her 12-year-old child arrived in the United States asking for protection, in October 2017, Border Patrol handcuffed the child and told him to say goodbye to mom. Blanca didn't hear from him again for weeks as she remained detained in El Paso.
Even through all this Blanca has been incredibly fierce, repeatedly advocating for herself and her children, standing up to border officers, Judges and prison bullies. She and her family even advocate for other mothers and children separated by immigration. Families like Blanca's truly deserve all our support.
When we heard about Blanca, days away from her deportation, we knew we had to do something. We could not let the government get away with the cruelty of punishing Blanca by stealing her child, jailing her and then deporting her - just for seeking asylum.
Aldea entered pro bono representation for Blanca and stopped her deportation. Understanding that we would have to travel across the country for a mandatory appearance before one of the most difficult Immigration Judges in the U.S., we signed up for weeks of research, drafting and collecting evidence to support Blanca's case. After many long and tearful prison calls, and a truly collective effort by volunteers on the ground and advocacy networks reaching all across the U.S., we secured a hearing to argue for Blanca's bond.
We flew from Pennsylvania to El Paso. We sat in the Judge's court and he took our case first. He explained the rules of his court and we listened patiently. We were all nervous.
Then something happened. The Judge smiled and thanked us for coming. He told Blanca that when she was released to New Orleans, she had to go to Jefferson Square and eat beignets.
He called her a refugee. He called her claim of fear “valid.” And he ordered her released on a $7,500 bond. Once we post her bond, she will be on her way to seeing her children again, free and safe.
The Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee (DMSC), Pantsuit Republic and Aldea are now joining efforts to raise funds to cover Blanca's bond. DMSC - Fianza Fund has already generously offered $1,500 to bring us closer to our goal!
This fundraiser will first go toward completing Blanca's bond. Once we receive the funds, one of our managing attorneys will post bond directly with ICE.
DMSC has volunteered to assist Blanca after her release and help her make arrangements for her travel to New Orleans. Any amount remaining after posting bond will be used to cover travel costs for reunification.
Last, any amount remaining will be used to cover our out-of-pocket travel expenses for the required court appearance in El Paso.
Any funds donated in excess of bond and travel expenses will remain in Aldea's Bond Fund for Family Reunification to benefit other separated families.
The best part of your tax-deductible gift to this bond fund is that it never ends! When Blanca's case is over, ICE returns the money to the bond fund and we can use it to assist another family in need. For example, we are currently preparing for the bond hearing of another mom separated from her three children, ages 3, 11 and 16, who is now detained in Batavia, NY.
We work diligently to make sure that separated families know we are here for them and that we want to help, no matter where they are detained. All of Aldea's services for persons in detention are pro bono, so you can rest assured that your contribution is going directly to the families we represent.
THANK YOU for helping us complete our work and for supporting Blanca. Not only will your donation actually get Blanca free, but it will be a statement that family separation is an unacceptable punishment for asylum seekers. Together, we can fight back and make the U.S. a safer, more welcoming place for refugee families!