No one has the right to separate a child from the parent they love. Nobody!
LPC Project Reunite Families aims to reunify the children of deported parents with their mothers and fathers. LPC seeks a Presidential Executive Order to expedite the reunification of the estimated 46,000 children misappropriated by county foster care agencies – due to ICE deportation raids.
Although the Latino Policy Coalition strongly supports several pending bills that attempt to halt current practices whereby United States citizen and immigrant children, become permanently separated from their rightful parents – these legislative initiatives are not enough.
We believe that all federal and state bills on this matter need to acknowledge more forcefully, that these de facto misappropriations of children from their parents violate the fundamental human rights of parents and children; and violate many international treaties of which the U.S. is a signatory.
Latino community leaders need to organize for a national and international process to reunify families that are currently in this deplorable situation.
Future strategies need to contain Habeas Corpus demands and/or the demand for a Presidential Executive Order to expedite the reunification these estimated 46,000 children with their parents. We hope you will join in on this vital mission.
Read LPC complaint to the United Nations Human Rights Council by clicking here
LPC is chaired by former San Francisco Supervisor, Jim Gonzalez the author of the nation’s first City of Sanctuary Ordinance (1989) to protect immigrant rights.
Project Reunite Families Initiatives:
- LPC request to Dr. Navanethem Pillay for United Nations Writ of Habeas Corpus Action: Misappropriation of the Children of Undocumented Immigrants in the United States of America.
- LPC request to President Barack Obama for Executive Order: Reunite Children Separated from Detained/Deported Immigrant Parents.
- LPC presents Shattered, a short film by Jaime Gonzalez. Shattered is the dramatic story of a young mother and her two children, caught up in the mass separation of tens of thousands of American born children from their deported parents.
- Jan. 9, 2013 Read Maria Clara Martin, Chief, Section Americas, Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division of the High Commissioner for Human Rights thank you letter to LPC for sharing the dvd copy of the short film Shattered.
- August 16, 2012 Read the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Dr. Navanethem Pillay’s response to LPC’s request for United Nations Writ of Habeas Corpus Action.
Univision Interview with Jim Gonzalez, LPC Chair:
September 1, 2011, was hot in Tucson, 108 degrees, and the Tohono O’odham Nation is hotter by several degrees. That’s the day that Josue Oliva started the final leg of his 1,600-mile journey from Honduras to be reunited with his wife Beth, five-year old daughter Fiorella, and two-year old son Dangello, in Oklahoma City. His group of twenty crossed into the United States onto the Tohono O’odham Nation but, within hours, several in his group ran out of water. Desperation overcame reason and Josue refilled his water bottles from a cattle pond. That evening, five from the group decided to give themselves over to the Border Patrol, including Josue’s brother, Gerardo, who pleaded with Josue not to continue. Josue replied, “I want to be with my family.”
Josue met Beth in Florida, where they both attended the same church. Their shared beliefs connected them and they married. They had two children and decided to move to Oklahoma for work. Beth is a U.S. citizen, but because of changes in the law, she was unable to secure legal status for Josue even though they were legally married. This created a precarious existence that weighed heavy on their minds. They even discussed returning to Honduras but knew that their opportunities as a family would be limited by poverty and lack of access to education and resources. Beth thought she could better facilitate the return to Honduras if she had a profession. She decided she would pursue an education in medicine and hoped that this career would eventually afford her family better opportunities in Honduras. Unfortunately, they did not have enough time to accomplish their goals. In February of this year, Josue’s car was struck by another driver. Even though he was not at fault and no one was injured, law enforcement discovered his undocumented status, and he was deported back to Honduras.
Beth said from the moment he was deported, they tried to find a way to be together again. She went to Honduras to see him in May, and they discussed their options. As a young father, Josue was desperate to be reunited with his children. He decided he could not be away from his family any longer and would cross again. Beth pleaded with him to wait, but he had already made up his mind. He began the arduous 900-mile journey from Honduras to Nogales, Mexico. Josue and Beth stayed in close contact until he crossed into the United States on Thursday, September 1, and then the communication stopped. On Tuesday, September 5, a friend who had crossed with Josue called Beth and told her that Josue had fallen behind and was left by the group.
Within hours, Beth and her sister-in-law, Elizabeth, were on their way driving to Arizona to look for Josue. Beth called everyone she could imagine for help. There were serious limitations regarding what could be done, as Josue was left behind on the Tohono O’odham Nation and several days had passed before he was reported missing. She contacted the Honduran Consulate, which, on Friday September 9, put her in touch with Mike Wilson, a Tohono O’odham tribal member and volunteer with Humane Borders. Mike and his partner Susan offered their home to Beth and Elizabeth to stay while in Tucson. Their home became the base to organize a search party.
On Saturday, September 10, Beth received permission from the Baboquivari District council to search for her husband on their land. Beth knew a name of a crossing where the friend who had survived the journey said they had crossed. From that point, Mike estimated the route the border crossers had taken. With the help of volunteers from the Tohono O’odham Nation, they search for him for three days.
I spoke with Beth a few hours before they found Josue. Beth held hope that he would be found alive because she imagined her strong, young husband could withstand any obstacle. Few can imagine an area where there is virtually no water and the temperatures are so extreme that a healthy young man can die in the span of a couple of days. This is particularly pertinent to migrants coming from Central America. Many of them arrive to Mexico dehydrated and weak and then start the next part of their journey: crossing the Arizona desert.
The group of migrants who accompanied Josue said after he drank contaminated water from the cattle pond he fell ill. Humane Borders has repeatedly been denied permission to establish water stations on the Tohono O’odham Nations and it is nearly impossible to carry enough water to complete this journey during the harsh summer months. The migrants who traveled with him said he got weaker in the heat and that he finally succumbed. A few stayed with him, closing his eyes once he died and said a prayer before they continued on.
On September 13, tribal member David Garcia, hiking ahead of the search party, found Josue’s remains. It had been only 11 days since he had been left behind, but his remains were already too decomposed for visual identification. He was taken to the office of the Pima County Medical Examiner, where his identity was confirmed. The Honduran Consulate facilitated his cremation, and the family returned to Oklahoma.
Beth continues to cope with her sadness, but says the hardest part is explaining to her children that their father will not be returning. She said her daughter regularly asks “When will Daddy be back?” The family was hopeful they would be reunited when he decided to cross, but this tragedy has taken his life. Although she is too young to understand her father has passed, Fiorella understands the love and devotion that fueled her father’s final actions.