Help bring my father, Lazaro Ventura Borges, home
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This is my story:
My father, Lazaro Ventura age: 67, is being detained in immigration with an "order for removal"(deportation).
He's been in this country for 37 years, having come to this country in 1980 during Mariel Boatlifts crisis from Cuba. He settled in Hudson County, NJ, having lived in Weehawken, Union City, West New York, and North Bergen respectively. He had one brush with the law in 1992 and was charged with possession of a controlled substance and since then he's been living a quiet life as a resident of this country. I am his only blood-relative, having been born and raised in Hudson County.
He doesn't speak English well and doesn't understand the complexities of our legal system, or the ever-changing laws surrounding immigration. He was first detained by immigration in 2008 after walking into an ICE office to "check-in" and was taken on the spot. After being transported far away, close to the Canadian boarder in upstate NY, hundreds of miles from anyone he knows, a judge charged him with a deportation order because of a possession charge back in 1992. He then served 6 months of time in a federal prison and its my belief that he signed away all his rights to an appeal thinking he had full immunity as a Cuban citizen. He did not have legal representation in those proceedings.
Now, years later, he continued to maintain a good status with ICE, checking in accordingly, and on June 1, 2017, he was detained again. No information was given and no one was contacted. I received a confused voicemail from him with no information.
Armed with his name and birth date, I set off to find my father and after hours of research and dead-end phone calls, I found out he's being detained in Elizabeth Contract Detention Center (Evans St, Elizabeth, NJ). All of my calls to his caseworker, to the facility, to Newark office have gone unanswered. I managed to get into an automated phone system where I was able to hear the status of his case and found out that a hearing is not scheduled and there is an order for removal. I have been visiting him daily since.
I understand we live in frightening times where we don't know if our foreign neighbors are friends, however, my father is not a hardened criminal. To know him is to truly love him, he's a jovial soul, despite his hardships in Cuba and trying to earn a living in this country. He's worked in this country as a laborer, dishwasher, and other odd-jobs. His main passion is music and loves to play the bongos while listening to his favorite band, Los Van Van (from Cuba). His main talent is telling jokes, always making his friends laugh. I love to hear his stories from Cuba, as he puts a hilarious spin on them, but living in Cuba is far from hilarious. I worry for his safety there should he be sent back.
He's not a threat to society and luring a 67-year-old man (with a heart condition) to an ICE office for a check in and plucking him out of his life and sticking him in a prison is an inhumane approach to protecting our country. He's been in this country 37 years, more than half his life. The United States of America is HIS country. His time here, and the severity of his crime should be considered.
I know his story is not unique in these uncertain times, but I'm asking for your help. It's my hope that with your support we can encourage Governor Chris Christie to pardon my father so that he can be freed and work towards gaining his citizenship.
Thank you for your help.
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