La Casa de Paz
Kim and her boyfriend were on a cross-country trip to visit his aunt, brother, and sister, all from Mexico. He was so little when his parents brought him to the US that he barely remembered anything about it. Now his parents were back in Mexico permanently, having been deported. He and Kim were driving just north of Spokane when they pulled over for a scenic view. Even though they were miles from the Canadian border, a Border Patrol vehicle pulled up next to them and asked for ID. When the officer discovered the boyfriend’s status, he arrested him. He had lived in the US for almost two decades, but in a single moment he’d lost everything: his house, his car, his career. He spent five months in immigrant detention and was deported.
Jamal came from Islamabad and was arrested. He knew no English and did not understand. After many months passed, he was told he was released. He was handed a large envelope and was told he had to leave. It is night, he doesn’t know where he is, or even what city he is in. All he has is the envelope which tells him he has to show up in four months for his hearing. He doesn’t know where to show up, or where he’ll stay in the meantime. He sees a bus stop across the railroad tracks and he goes there to wait. Finally a bus comes and the driver keeps saying something to him but he doesn’t understand. Finally the driver shuts the door and drives away. It is the middle of winter, he had entered the US in the heat of summer wearing a short-sleeved shirt and loose pants. No coat, no sweater, no boots or hat. The temperature is dropping. A car drives up and offers him money for sex. Another car asks him to do an unlawful act.
BUT—an officer at the detention center called Casa de Paz and said, ”There is a young man here who is being released. There is no one here to pick him up and no place for him to go. Would you be willing to come get him?” That is why the next car that Jamal saw brought him to Casa de Paz where he was finally able to contact his family back in Islamabad to tell them he was still alive. From Casa de Paz, he received warm clothes, food, a place to sleep, and someone to be with him at his hearing.
That moment—when a person in detention is released—may be the worst gap in the entire US immigration system. It’s a crucial moment in a person’s life. And for our society.
The ”must read” book, “The House That Love Built” by Sarah Jackson tells the story. Sarah Jackson is the founder of Casa de Paz, a hospitality home in Denver, Colorado, that has hosted more than 3,000 immigrant guests from 73 nations. Casa’s family of more than 2,000 volunteers ministers to immigrants and families separated by detention with visits, meals, shelter, transportation, and emotional support through the arduous experience of immigration detention one simple act of love at a time.
US law says if you’re deported after knowingly living in the US illegally, you’re banned from applying to reenter for ten years. This creates quite a dilemma for families. Do you stay here hoping you will not be caught? Or do you go home and apply for admission to enter the US?
Would you like to learn more? Or even become part of this program? Go to their website: casadepazcolorado.org. It will give you much more information.
Of course, you can go out and change the world—all of this is possible!