ALRIGHT EVERYONE! SMALL VICTORY, BUT A VICTORY INDEED! MY father was just released on his Own Recognizance. It's not over, but my father doesn't have to suffer in jail anymore. Now we are awaiting the hearing with the Immigration Judge. CONTINUE TO PRAY STEADFAST. Pray for the softening of the judge's heart. We now have a chance to actually present his case!
WOOO! PRAISE GOD! Thank you to all the petition signers, everyone who wrote their Congress, ICE, DHS, Senators, and our Governor. Your support has been paramount, and I'm proud to be an American, standing alongside all of you who helped. THANK YOU!
God bless you all!
As we all know, our country is in drastic need of Immigration Reform. Immigrants are fighting for their lives to be with their families day and night. As an American Soldier, and U.S. Citizen I have witnessed and experienced the hardship of battle, and separation from family whilst serving a tour overseas in Afghanistan. I have just returned home on January 15th 2012, with no injuries and all thanks to God.
As of March 24th 2012, just 69 days after my post-deployment transition, my father, who is a Legal Permanent Resident, was taken by ICE Agents in my living room while I was asleep. My father has lived in the USA as a Legal Permanent Resident since 1989. 14 Years ago he was convicted of a Class D felony, and was sentenced to Probation which he was discharged Honorably (and early) because of good conduct. Since his conviction, my father has learned his lesson and completely turned his life around.
As a child, my father was distant, because of type of lifestyle he was involved in. Yet, I knew he loved me, and his children, and he always took care of me as best he could. His addiction to drugs (which at the time, I was unaware of) was starting to overpower him, and finally our home was raided. After 1998, when my father was honorably discharged, he took proactive steps to make our life better. We went from poverty, to living in a room in a relative's house, to eventually renting our own place. My dad worked painstakingly hard trying to find good work to support me, pay for college, and raise me. For years, nobody would hire him. He worked odd jobs, here and there, but nothing significant enough to really get our own place to live. Finally, in 2007 he got a big break, and was hired by Veolia Transportation, driving and serving the citizens of Las Vegas on the Citizens Area Transit Bus. He was so proud. His pay was finally good enough to start saving, and he did just that. Often times telling me: "Everything I have here is for you, son." He would sacrifice his whole day doing work that very rarely gets recognition. Day in and Day out he'd wake up at 2am, deal with the abuse of the passengers, and the inability to take breaks despite working 14 hour days. He always lived by "Hard work, is good work." He always talked to me about principles of life, teaching me to "obey and submit to authority." "Strive, work hard, make investments and save money." He was really focused on setting me in the right track.
In 2008, I enlisted in the Nevada Army National Guard, and 2 years later I was promoted to Sergeant. When I first heard word of my impending deployment, my dad was broken hearted. The look on his face, when I told him that I was leaving to Afghanistan was filled with shock, worry, disdain, and bitter sadness. My father suffered for a year without me in 2011, often times not even knowing if I would make it home, or if the phone would ring again with my voice on the other end. However, he remained so strong, and really played an instrumental role in my service. He would always encourage me, comfort me with scriptures, provide advice on leading my troops, and giving me the strength to move forward day by day waiting for the longest 365 days until I can reunite with him.
My father has been an active member of our church, Calvary Chapel Green Valley, where he would attend regular Military Ministry meetings, often times comforting family members of deployed soldiers. While I was gone, he would spend his weekends attending the church's "Downtown Outreach" where he would feed the homeless, give them bibles, support, prayer, and minister to them.
When I finally returned him this past January, my father greeted me with tears of joy. He was so happy, and proud of his son's service. He would often brag about the medals I got, my rank, and about the accomplishments during my deployment to his friends, and the cashiers at the local grocery store. It was a bit embarrassing to say the least, but that's how he showed his love and pride. I guess the picture I am trying to paint is that my father, yes he made a mistake 14 years ago, was drastically changed from that. He is a completely different man! Gone are the days where he'd be cooped up in his room with his "friends". Gone are the days, where we would barely even talk because he was too doped up. In fact, my father is a proud patriot, parent of a soldier, a productive member of society, a servant of the public sector, a tax payer and an amazing, christian father. He has taught me so much, and honestly even now, as I face his incarceration and possible deportation proceedings, all of his training that he has instilled in me is kicking in. Without it, I would have been an unorganized mess. I owe everything to my father, and even as a soldier, my performance in duty, and decorations are a direct result of his input. My father has been instrumental in my morale, my troop's morale and most importantly my re-integration into society after experiencing war.
My whole family is full of Servicemen, U.S. Citizens, and law enforcement. To strip him away from me is both shattering to my morale, well-being, and inspiration to strive. This year, when I returned we were already planning to buy a house, and have signed our paperwork. I was planning to fulfill my lifelong dream of taking care of him. He is a 54 year old man, and he's turning 55 this year. He's a frail image of what he used to be in his younger days, and as his son, I've always wanted to care for him.
The sad morning transpired as my father responded to knocks on the door by ICE Agents. My father, being as docile as he is opened the door. He was under the impression that they were just "policemen." They began asking him questions about his truck that he owned. Worried, my father opened the door a little more and started asking if everything was alright. One ICE agent already put his foot in the door. Well, noticing that, my father asked them "Who are you?" To which only a badge was shown, but no positive Identification from the agents. Nothing stating that they were ICE or anything like that. Well, a little confused, he said "come in the living room, I will brush my teeth. I just woke up." My dad ran upstairs, brushed his teeth and came back down. They began interviewing him, asking questions about his prior conviction. Moments later, they said "We have to take you in for questioning" and without a warrant of any sort, they started to cuff him. My dad submitted, as he felt it was the right thing to do (and it was). As they took him out of the house, he said "My son just returned from Afghanistan. Please let me say goodbye to him" to which they replied "No." My dad called my name, in hopes I'd awake so he can say goodbye. Sadly, I didn't hear him. The ICE Officer then walked upstairs, rummaged through my dad's belongings to get his Green Card, Wallet and House Keys. I woke up that morning thinking he was kidnapped, when I then received a call from ICE saying they had my father in custody.
As a veteran who fought to protect the freedoms, and defend the constitution of this great nation this situation poses questions: Was my fight in vain? Why serve a federal duty, protect freedom, if my family will get immediately separated?
I am proud of my service this great country. I know my sacrifice will not be in vain, because of everyone here that makes this place so great!
I am urging anyone who sees this petition to please help me. My father is all I have. He is my motivation, my inspiration, my best friend, and most of all: MY HERO! A great man. He's a father of four, a grandfather, an Uncle, and a brother and a friend to many. A 55 year old man, that just wants to love his family, and is loved very much by them.
If he is deported to the Philippines, there is no life there for him. He doesn't have the protections of Equal Employment Opportunity in a country where age discrimination is so rampant; Therefore, he wont be able to support himself. All of his brothers, sisters, friends, and most of his children are here. There is nobody there to take care of him. His life is here in America. He has nothing there. It is an old country that he left 24 years ago.
My father has already done his time, and he is now a contributing member of society. He pays his taxes, he loves his family, he gives to his church, ministers to members of his community, and lives his life just. He should be allowed to stay, because he has earned that right. I hope my sacrifice has helped earn his right as well.
Thank you for your consideration,
Sergeant Marc-Johann Suarez
B 422nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion