[Urgent Petition] The Invisible Lives We Do Not See

Update: Sadly, Polo was deported back to Mexico on Aug. 31. Supporters of the petition on his behalf received the following message:

Thank you so much for taking the time to sign our petition. Sadly, Polo was deported back to Mexico today, but not before he and his family saw that more than 450 people were standing with them to keep their family together. And while we aren’t sure what the future holds for him and Yessie and their girls, we are beyond grateful for the support you gave them at such a critical time.

This experience has changed us and made us aware of the thousands of ‘invisible people’ who are here in the United States. May it make us all better citizens and more aware of the people in this country who are desperate for opportunities we often take for granted.

Thank you again,
Kate Forristall and Mary Glen Fredrick

Please sign this urgent petition to stop the deportation of Leopoldo (“Polo”) Serrano Salto to Mexico. He’s scheduled to be deported tomorrow out of the U.S. and will be separated from Yessie, his wife, and their two young daughters (both U.S. citizens).

Ninguna persona es illegal (No person is illegal)

Ninguna persona es illegal, (No person is illegal). Immigration march on May 1st, 2007 in San Diego, California. Credit: Michael Righi, used under CC license.

And if you can, read this post by Kathryn Foristall on what Polo, Yessie, and their family have faced, along with thousands more undocumented immigrant parents and their kids. It’s horrifying and completely counter to any real notion of freedom, equality, or “family values.” Some of the post:

Every bit of heavenly wrath I wanted to call down on the system in that moment was swallowed up by her next words, “The judge is giving him credit for time served. You can pick him up at the jail.”

We grabbed napkins and dinosaurs and children and Cokes (Godforgiveme) and ran to the car as fast as we could. But of course it was no use. Because if you’ve been deported before, as Polo has, no one but ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is picking you up at the jail. Polo’s record is completely clean (apart from driving without a license) and he is an entrepreneur who has worked hard and employed others and established such an honest reputation that his business comes to him word of mouth. He is not a criminal. But, because he was deported and then returned to his family in the US without papers, he is a felon. And so, on Wednesday August 29 he is scheduled to be deported back to Mexico, in spite of the fact that he’s been living and working and keeping other people in this country working, for more than 18 years.

I didn’t know any of this prior to last week. I just knew he showed up on time and called me back and did what I hired him to do. And so when he didn’t show up, I didn’t really think about it, I just assumed he’d been called to something urgent. That night I answered a knock on my door to find a young Hispanic woman, two toddlers, and a young man on my porch.

“Are you Kate?” she asked, and when I answered in the affirmative she told me who she was. When Mary Glen and I invited them in she unleashed her story, of Polo being mistaken for another man and arrested at a Burger King. By the time they discovered he was not the man they were seeking, well, it was too late. Because they’d discovered his true identity.

In her final quarter at Stanford, Mary Glen took a class called Printmaking and Social Justice, taught by a woman named Favianna Rodriguez. The class looked at how art can spur action on behalf of the oppressed, in particular the undocumented. It was there that Mary Glen learned that more than 5,000 children have been taken from their parents as a result of their arrest and deportation. Some have been left sitting in cars, put into the foster care system and adopted by American parents, in spite of the fact that their parents had no criminal records. Let me say that again so you understand me–people who are undocumented and have been picked up, have been taken from their young children, left alone by the side of the road. They have lost them to a court system that decided they were better off with American parents because they were citizens and their parents were not. And I don’t care where you fall on the political spectrum, unless you are Kris Kobach who is trying to make a name for himself, the thought of children being taken from loving and hardworking parents should rend your heart.


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