Joseph was convicted in 2016 for conspiring with cartel members, though the facts were clear that the only mistake he made was selling a car to someone he didn’t know, who then used the car to transport drugs. Joseph was sentenced to 18 months in a west Texas Federal prison for the alleged conspiracy. He then spent the next 18 months fighting his deportation from inside an immigration jail near Dallas. I have known Joseph and his family since 2010, and I will personally vouch for the fact that Joseph is no cartel member. But as we’ve all seen, our criminal justice system in the U.S. is not always just.
I’ll never forget the day we went to immigration court to present his case. It was the first time he had been able to lay eyes on his wife or his five beautiful U.S. citizen children in almost three years. Everyone was sobbing before the hearing even started. Then each child spoke to the immigration judge, telling her how much they loved their father, how broken the family had been without him, and how much more they would suffer if he was deported. Each child had to endure the government attorney’s cross examination, where she repeatedly accused their beloved father of working for cartels.
My client’s youngest child was just 10 years old when she bravely took the stand to tell the agents of the deportation machine how much harm they had caused her and her family. She trembled and sobbed as she testified for an hour at the front of that court room. And in spite of her pleas to the judge to let her dad stay with her in the United States, the judge ordered Joseph deported anyway.
Now Joseph’s kids live every day with the loss of their dad, and their memories of their failed attempt to keep him from getting deported. Youth Rise Texas exists to help kids like Joseph’s. They provide leadership training to young people who have been directly impacted by incarceration and deportation. They provide community to young people who need to know that they are not alone, and that they do have the power to make positive change. And they provide healing from the trauma of losing a parent to jail and deportation. Youth Rise is creating the possibility of a future with justice by helping victims of injustice learn how to envision and enact policies that make our communities stronger and safer. They give us hope. (To learn more about Youth Rise Texas, including what they do and why they do it, click here.)
This year, for every dollar donated to Youth Rise Texas on March 5 during Amplify Austin, WGV will match it up to $2500. This means that if you donate $1, we make it $2. If you donate $5, we make it $10.
It would mean so much to us – and to the families of clients like Joseph – if you could pitch in just $5. Click here to donate today.