Concerned Citizens of Easton (Gail Woodall’s group), brought to Matthew Peters an excellent idea to help raise money for the Multi-Cultural Center, specifically for emergency funding. It would involve using “Go Fund Me” on the internet. Members of local citizens’ groups like Bay Hundred Citizens (BHCJS), CCE, and Talbot Rising are already contributing. It would be good if members of UUFE would also know of this opportunity.
Matthew has written an article for the Star Democrat outlining the “Go Fund Me” plan that appeared in the paper last week. Interested members should contribute individually on the “Go Fund Me” web site. For information about a local family that is already being affected by ICE, please read Matthew Peter’s recent letter below.
UUFE Immigration Task Force
On Wednesday, July 26, Jose Reyes and his cousin Franklin were picked up by ICE officers as they arrived at their painting job on Goldsborough St in Easton early in the morning. Details are still coming in, but as of now it appears that ICE had orders for their detainment and this wasn’t a random raid or stop. Our organization has worked with the family of Jose Reyes for a number of years and many in the community can attest to the fact that they have no criminal record of any kind and have been working and contributing to the community for nearly a decade.
Jose’s partner, Aurelia P., received the generous $500.00 donation from the funds set aside by concerned citizens in Talbot County on Friday July 28. Aurelia has also been in the country for a long time and was the unfortunate victim of a violent crime in the US which led to the approval of a special U-visa given to those that can show substantial trauma as a result of the crime. Our organization assisted Aurelia last year in converting her U-visa into a Permanent Resident Card or Green Card last year as a free service of our center. After being a victim of a violent crime, Aurelia found comfort and support through her relationship with Jose. They have a three-year-old daughter and Aurelia is eight and a half months pregnant with their second child. Their situation could not be more dire.
It provides us with a stark example of how indiscriminate immigration enforcement affects families in our community and will have consequences for our entire community for decades to come. Jose has been a constant source of financial and emotional support for Aurelia and their children. As an experienced painter, Jose was able to provide for his family year-round and they often discussed investing in their own home soon as their economic situation continued to improve. With permanent residence, Aurelia is able to work legally and have access to developing a line of credit and begin building a sustainable future for her family.
The detainment of Jose and the possible and very probable deportation of Jose has already caused shockwaves in our community. The fact alone that a 3-year-old child has to live the next few months or longer knowing that her father is being detained and may be separated from him for years to come, that this family has now been stripped of income, and that this young mother will have to go through childbirth next week alone should be enough for us as a community say “enough is enough”. And the very real possibility that this family, these children, may never fully recover from this event and will now face a much greater risk of living in poverty and livelong emotional trauma, should be enough for our entire community to demand a better immigration policy.
As many continue to ask me “What more can I do?”, I unfortunately don’t have a clear response. The fact that as a community we were able to respond so quickly to this tragedy is a step in the right direction, but this story is far from over. The $500 will help Aurelia get food on the table this week and help with rent and I pray they can use some of it to find a competent lawyer to take their case. I pray each day that this does not become common place, but we all know that that will most likely not be the case. Thousands of lives are being affected negatively each and every day in America though an unbalanced immigration enforcement system that has failed to find a better way to address the issue of documentation. The wounds that these individuals receive each day will leave scars for a lifetime and we know that history will not look kindly those that stood by and did nothing. We have to keep pushing for a better way.
Aurelia, her daughter, and her unborn child thank you for stepping up and being able to offer her some comfort and support. We will continue to monitor this situation and keep you up to date, and let’s make sure that we are ready to respond if tragedy strikes again in our community.
Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center