When I interrupted the president's speech to ask him to stop separating our immigrant families, Santiago Garcia-Leco was in his second week of custody at the El Paso Detention Center. He turned himself over to the Border Patrol, hoping to be detained, so that he could find cases of asylum seekers stuck inside the inhumane immigration prison. The president should hear the message loud and clear now: deportations need to stop, and he has the power to do it.
Santiago's message, like mine, was that the members of our community who are detained and deported matter. We will challenge immigration authorities, detention centers, and the President to bring them home.
Santiago, a 23-year-old undocumented young person from Marion, North Carolina, was escorted out of the detention center almost the same time his story was hitting newsprint Wednesday morning. He posted this message online:
I wish I could say that I am so happy to be out. I have to admit that as I was escorted out of El Paso Processing Center, it was with a heavy heart knowing that as their gate closed behind me all the brave fighters I have been honored and privileged to have known in the last two and a half weeks, were not as fortunate as me. As I write this post, my friends Kuldeep, Viesca, Ronaldo, Misael, Jose Ungo, Kumar, and so many more are still sitting inside a detention center that is determined to keep them caged in and making them feel like they are nothing but a disposable memory.
The El Paso Detention Center should be fully reviewed for the abuses that have been exposed. The President has the power to end these abuses, to release these men and women from detention and welcome them into our country. He has the power not to deport them.
This is not only smart thing to do, but the right thing to do. The legislative session and the ability to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform this year may be over, but the president still has an opportunity to make the system better. He should do so now.
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