No Human Being is Illegal: Alvaro Lopez’s Story

By Kim Hunter

It’s become cliché to say Detroit has been in the national spotlight because of voters battling the Emergency Manager, retirees fighting to keep their pensions and families struggling to keep their water on, just to cite a few items. Recently, Detroit’s City Council has taken positive leadership on another issue that deserves attention as well.

The Council unanimously approved a resolution in support of President Obama’s Deferred Action on Parents of Americans (DAPA). DAPA gives relief from deportation to certain undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. for 5 years or more and who have children that are U.S. citizens. There are quite a few hoops for people to jump through and the reform is only temporary. But, it gives families some breathing room. Fewer children have to worry about their parents being deported while they are in school. Parents don’t have to worry if a routine traffic stop on the way to work will result in them be taken from their children and or their spouse.

There are those that oppose the President’s work to keep families and communities together. Even before GOP Presidential would be Donald Trump aired his impractical, racist fantasies of mass deportation of undocumented immigrants and their American family members, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schutte had joined a lawsuit to overturn DAPA.

One brave immigrant family spoke out in favor of DAPA and the City Council resolution even though they were unable to benefit from either and, sadly, have been separated by deportation. Alvaro Lopez, a single dad with two grade-school age girls showed up at a rally downtown to protest his deportation and to support the Council resolution. The Lopez’s are exactly the type of family that is supposed to be protected by “prosecutorial discretion.” Alvaro is a single dad, a hard working guy with a spotless record. He has been raising his two daughters ever since they were abandoned by their mother, who is battling addiction. Alvaro’s two girls showed up with hand-drawn, heart-wrenching signs trying to save their “super dad,” pleading for him to be allowed to stay with them.

Detroit’s ICE Field Director Rebecca Adducci is supposed to use her discretion to protect such families from being torn apart by deportation and instead focus on deporting people who actually present some sort of danger or threat. As of this writing, he has been deported. He nonetheless used part of final days with his daughters to speak out so that others might not have to go through the pain his family is experiencing now.

At least the Detroit City Council listened and understood what is at stake. Their resolution in support of families staying together shows the way for other elected officials to shore up much needed immigration reform.