Mariola Pérez immigrated to the US from Guatemala in 2010 to flee from domestic violence and persecution as an indigenous Mayan minority, seeking to provide a future for her 3-year-old son, Ernesto, who was born after she arrived in this country and is a US citizen. Since her arrival, Mariola has devoted herself to two things: her education, and her son. She began with ESL classes at local universities, went on to study for the GED, and is now in a one-year college readiness program at Operation Booststrap in Lynn, MA. She has worked cleaning houses and delivering newspapers to care for her son and has also become a leader and advocate in the immigrant rights community, speaking out on stopping deportations and passing immigration reform.
Last week, Mariola was pulled over by police when found driving without a license. Because Massachusetts is part of the “Secure Communities” program, which allows local law enforcement to share information from arrests with ICE, she is now facing imminent deportation, which would be disastrous for her family. If is deported, her health and safety will be threatened, as will that of her son, who suffers from asthma and other chronic medical conditions. "I don't know what we will do if I am deported. I don't want him exposed to the abusive environment that he Mariola would endure in Guatemala.”
Mariola dreams to attend college and become a productive member of her community. However, ICE has targeted her for deportation, forcibly separating her- a single mother- from her son. Obama’s recently released memo acknowledged the devastating consequences of deporting parents of US children, and said ICE should take steps to keep families together by avoiding the deportation of such parents. Take action now-- urge I.C.E. to follow the spirit of Pres. Obama’s memo and grant Mariola Pérez a stay of removal!
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Mariola has many connections in the North Shore and the Boston community and has developed a supportive network of friends. Her academic English has steadily improved since her arrival, and she was recently admitted into a pre-college program, achieving her lifelong dream of attending college.
Two weeks ago, Mariola’s hopes and dreams were jeopardized when ICE arrested her for driving without a license and identified her as not having the proper documentation to live in the United States. Because of the Secure Communities Program, ICE was able to identify Mariola’s prior arrests at the U.S./Mexican borders when she was desperately trying to flee from violence in Guatemala.
As friends of Mariola, we are anguished over the fact that ICE is considering breaking up her family and endangering her by forcing her to move back to Guatemala, where she, especially as a single mother with child, would be forced to live in conditions of inescapable violence and extreme poverty.
In the U.S., Mariola was able to build significant relationships and share her knowledge and support with others. Amongst her many contributions, Mariola has helped youth in MA through her volunteer work with the Student Immigrant Movement, a youth organization advocating for equitable higher education access for immigrant youth. She has worked hard to provide a safe future for her child and has become a community role model for single mothers like herself.
We are aware that Mariola would like to stay in the US because she wants what’s best for her three years old US citizen son, Ernesto. Mariola is rightfully concerned about the emotional trauma her son would experience if his only parent were deported- the abrupt interruption in his education in the states, the bonds he has establish with the community and the life he has created here since his birth.
Mariola is an invaluable member of our community. Separating her from her family and friends here would be a devastating loss for us all. We are asking you help us protect the well-being of those members of our community, such as Mariola, who need our support. We can begin to do this by referring to Obama’s recently released memo, which directs ICE to consider primary caregivers when making detention and deportation decisions. Considering these factors, we urge ICE to follow the spirit of President Obama's memo and grant Mariola a stay of removal.