[UPDATED: Sept. 6, 2019]
Julita Bartolome, known by many as Tita (Auntie) Julie, was detained for several weeks and recently deported, despite the sincere efforts of her husband (Pastor Ed Bartolome) to help her gain legal status. You can learn more about her story and her family's situation in their own words here: After Decades-Long Immigration Fight, A Chicago-Area Family Says Goodbye To Its Matriarch (by Esther Yoon-Ji Kang at WBEZ News, September 3, 2019)
Just as the Bartolome family suffered because they could not afford adequate legal counsel in the past, Pastor Ed has struggled to pay for the representation his wife's case requires, especially without the income she regularly contributes. As the pastor of a small immigrant church, he has had no choice but to pay his legal fees with a credit card, and financial challenges like these further jeopardize his chances of bringing Tita Julie back home to the United States. Beyond financial stress, each day takes a toll on Pastor Ed, his family, and their church.
As initially announced, the first $10K raised is going towards 1) paying down some of the Bartolome family's legal fees as described in the news article linked above, 2) a round-trip ticket and travel expenses for Pastor Ed to meet with Tita Julie in-person in the Philippines and make necessary arrangements (because they have been unable to see each other in person or hug since her detention several weeks ago), and 3) Tita Julie's initial needs in the Philippines since the United States has been her home for 30 years.
UPDATE: While the Bartolome family works through the legal system to secure Tita Julie's return to her husband, she is expected to remain in the Philippines for at least one year, increasing the financial burden on Pastor Ed while he is the sole earner and source of her support. As a 66-year-old woman and cancer survivor who is in many ways a stranger to the place she left decades ago, Tita Julie cannot easily find gainful employment in the Philippines. Because of these developments and the anticipated costs of expediting her return, we have raised our fundraising goal to $15K.
Raising $15K will help to ease these burdens in this already-traumatic season, enabling Pastor Ed to live without fear of losing their home. Reaching $15K would enable Tita Julie to travel back to her husband and children in the U.S. if an immigrant visa and waiver are granted within the next year. The Bartolome family remains grateful to God and appreciates your prayers and well-wishes, but contributions to this campaign are especially welcome as an expression of your love. THANK YOU for your generosity!