Help Wo Fight Deportation
My name is Wo Chan. I am a 23 year old poet, performer, and activist. I came to the US in 1996 as a young child, arriving with my family with full legal permanent residence. As a child my status followed that of my parents who immigrated to the U.S. legally.
I am writing today because my mother, father, and I are facing unjust deportation charges due to the criminal actions of former Homeland Security supervisor Robert Schofield.
In 2002, my father and mother applied for naturalization through the Department of Homeland Security. My parents believed they were lawfully applying for citizenship at the time, when in fact, Schofield was profiting off of them. He spoke Chinese and was the acting assistant director for examinations from 1998-2004. In 2006, he was convicted of bribery and various related crimes in connection with his issuance of certificates of naturalization to nearly 200 applicants, all of whom are in the Asian American community. Read more about Schofield’s crimes and the families he’s violated here:
My mother, father, and I represent three of those applicants who fell victim to Schofield's scheme in 2002. In 2011 and 2012, we were stripped of our US citizenships and in 2013, we were placed under deportation proceedings.
Neither my parents nor myself had any reason to obtain our citizenship outside of the regulations in place; my family was unfortunate to have Officer Schofield involve himself in our citizenship cases. Mr. Schofield's conviction and sentence lead to the US government placing all files that he had ever handled under investigation and in deportation proceedings.
Our lawyer is now fighting to show that neither my parents nor myself were involved or aware of this officer's fraudulent actions against the US government.
As this is a very unique and high-stakes case, we have hired a lawyer to represent us. The judge, however, has expedited our trial, meaning that the timeline for paying my attorney has shrunken dramatically. We need to come up with $15,000 by the first week of December to pay our attorney to represent us in our final hearing on December 23.
If there were any other way to do it, I wouldn’t ask for help, but the actions of this corrupt DHS official has stressed my family to a point of impossibility. I call upon all my communities and chosen family to help fight this injustice and keep my parents and me in the U.S..
I am asking for $5000, which is unexpected cost that my parents had to suddenly bear because the trial has been expedited.
I'd appreciate any donation you can give. Any little bit helps. Or if you cannot, please share this call.
I thank you so, so much.
Wo Chan & Fam
Wo Chan is a queer Fujianese poet, writer, and drag performer. A recipient of fellowships from Poets House , Kundiman, and Lambda Literary , Wo’s work has been published in cream city review , BARZAHK , The Cortlandt Review , iO: A Journal for New American Poetry , and VYM Magazine. As a member of Brooklyn-based drag alliance, Switch n' Play , Wo has performed at venues including Brooklyn Pride, The Trevor Project, and the Architectural Digest Expo. Wo is a 2015 Asian American Writers Workshop Margins Fellow .
thank you. I cannot say those two words enough for everyone who has shared my story and supported my family financially though this stressful time. I am still overwhelmed by the influx of support I received and continue to receive from friends, community, and strangers every day. As I learn to be present in my gratitude, I am touched to find myself present in all your thoughts and and all your actions. Thank you to all the contributors and advocates who are making my family's future in the US possible.
I want to give a quick update, however, about the date of our trial. The government has asked for a continuance, which is an extension--more time for them to prep the case. In this light, my family's trial date has been moved to May 5, 2016. All other factors have stayed the same.
In the meantime, I will continue to give updates as I receive them.
Thank you all so, so much.
Wo Chan and family
I thought this would take weeks. But somehow, you are a community that has managed to uplift and humble me at the same time. We reached the original goal of $5000 in only two hours; in less than 24 hours we hit $10,000. I keep telling myself how unbelievable it is, the way our families and extended families have come together to reject injustice and fight for those in need. The disbelief is a disservice to the urgency and empathy of the 282 people who have donated in the past 24 hours, the 1.5 k in shares across Facebook, the dozens of messages since I made myself open.
My mother and I have spent the last years taking turns telling each other that everything was going to be okay. Over the months we lost our citizenships and received letters of deportation in the mail my family continued to trade disbeliefs with one another. Even as we signed papers and took on debt, everything was going to be okay. For years, our reality was disbelief, but we live in our truths whether we choose them or not.
A dear sister Kai Cheng introduced me to this idea of trauma last year in her essay:
"The sociologist Kai Erickson once wrote that collective trauma is “a blow to the basic tissues of social life that damages the bonds attaching people together [. . .] so that 'I' continue to exist, though damaged, and 'you' continue to exist, though distant and hard to relate to. But 'we' no longer exist as linked cells in a larger communal body.” Simply put, if a group of people is traumatized — terrorized — enough, they will cease to feel connected to one another. This disconnection is a defensive response, an attempt to shut off the pain of being associated with the group. As a result, we become withdrawn, isolated inside the story that we are alone and without hope."
The feelings of anxiety, embarrassment, and isolation serve as both the ends and the means of trauma as enacted by power. What you have contributed to is the reversal—however gradual and small—to the damage caused by one corrupt official representing the state. I have been crying on and off, but today, I started receiving calls from other Asian Americans whose families have been violated by Schofield as well. We are undoing the work of trauma together, and putting a face on the issue not just to the public, but to each other.
Your donations contribute directly to the wellness of my parent's health, the security of their home, and the possibility of spending their old age with the family they raised. This has been a whirlwind so far; I can’t even thank everyone fast enough. I can only say thank you so many times before my throat runs dry and the air escapes my lungs, but until then I am sincere in all my expressed gratitude.
Lastly, I want say that I am fully confident in my attorney to represent myself and my family. They are well regarded and in clear communication with me. What I am fundraising for is not an upfront payment, but part of a payment plan we have worked out. My attorney has already started the fight, filed defensive motions and pleadings with the court and argued the case with the judge. We are scheduled for a hearing for the judge to hear the merits of the case; between now and the hearing date there is much more needed to be done to present and argue the case to the judge, including the filing of subpoenas to bring this same official to court to testify as necessary. There is no cooperation from the government to bring this government official up for the hearing and the attorneys need to take extra steps to locate, serve and bring him up to VA.
Thank you everyone for the support. I will continue to share updates not just on myself, but on Schofield cases in general. For now, this is a photo of my family at the family restaurant we own. We are celebrating my cousin’s birthday and posing in front her cake.
Love and community,
After reaching out publicly for help I felt dazed at the influx of support from my community. I can't believe that within an hour you all have already helped me reach 75% of my goal. SEVENTY FIVE. I am beyond words for now, but I am thinking of those without similar access to language and networks, and how when this is all over we must still promise to continue fighting for them. I am lucky to surrounded by such generous and strong activists, artists, writers, scientists, scholars, and performers who see the value of our interdependent communities as the only thing holding us together.
We cannot thank you enough for this flood of faith and kindness except to say thank you. Here is a selfie I coerced my parents into in 2013 when I was months away from graduating. They visited me and brought me a carton of 128 eggs and a bag of frozen fish balls to make sure I was eating well.
With my family far away, my community continues to nourish and defend me. Thank you everyone who has donated and shared my story. I don't know many of you, which touches me even more. I would list out the names, but I think many of you wish to be anonymous. Sending private love notes your way.
Here is a selfie I stole with my parents on the day of my graduation from UVA. They were so happy that day.
Thank you for your donations and shares.
Tears of happiness. So glad you and your parents prevailed.
That is amazing! People helped you so fast! I have just created a campaign myself, and can only hope to feel how you do right now. What a weight lifted from you and your family.
Hey, happy for you! I have almost the same reason in my gofound. It is inspiring to see you made it just fine. Enjoy your new life. Love ,care and peace!