Dede Adhanom was born in Ethiopia. In 1985, at the age of three, she was taken to Sudan by a relative to escape the violence of war in the country of her birth. At the age of 10, she was brought to Seattle. She found a new family at the age of 12 when she was placed in foster care in the Central District, and she still remains close to her foster mother.
When Dede was 19, she received a criminal conviction for a drug violation - a “foolish decision” she deeply regrets. This put her on the radar of the Board of Immigration, and she has been fighting deportation back to Ethiopia since 2006. She has no family in Ethiopia, and no memory of the culture and language. Deportation would be akin to a death sentence for this woman.
Despite all the hardships she endured in her youth, Dede has flourished in America. She is a tireless advocate involved in numerous projects and campaigns in her community, including work with Harborview Medical Center, The Village of Hope, the Black Prisoner Caucus, and Seattle Foreclosure Fighters. While many Americans wile their free time away with television or the internet, Dede is spending many hours out of her week devoted to bettering the lives of the people in her community, often taking her three children (ages 2, 4, and 6) with her. She does more to participate in the democracy of her adopted country than most natural citizens do. Her efforts and plight caught the attention of Governor Christine Gregoire, who in 2011 granted a pardon to Dede for her crime. Despite this, the Board of Immigration is persisting in their efforts to deport Dede. They have reopened her case, and her pre-trial will be held on November 15th.
This is a critical time for this remarkable woman. The outcome could finally grant her the citizenship she most certainly qualifies for, or it could rip her from her beloved husband, children, and the home she has worked so hard to build. Ever the compassionate fighter, Dede is adamant to point out that her struggle is only one of thousands that go unnoticed in this country every year. She hopes a victory in her case will lead to an increasing awareness of what so many must endure. Homeland Security and ICE have deported thousands of people since its inception. The stigma and shaming by society against those who come here to seek a better life makes them reluctant to speak out. Whole families suffer in silence. Dede hopes to change that.
Don’t Deport Dede! Her bright and beautiful children need their mother, and we need more people of compassion and humanity working in our communities!