Jesus Lara, an Ohio father of four American citizens, was deported to Mexico earlier today after nearly two decades in the U.S. Lara had no criminal record, was a taxpayer, and followed ICE’s rules by checking in regularly for years. That didn’t matter to immigration officials, who treated Lara no differently than they would someone who actually did pose a danger to public safety. Instead, he was ordered to leave.
With his options exhausted, Lara’s family and advocates went with him to Cleveland's Hopkins International Airport to say goodbye. "These are the darkest times I've ever seen as an attorney,” said former American Immigration Lawyers Association president David Leopold, who represented Lara. “When the best and the brightest that we have to offer are taken from their homes and sent away. The law is so broken."
It’s a law that tears families apart and leaves U.S. citizen children behind with no regard for their future, for their emotional and physical well-being, or even for who will feed and support them after a breadwinner gets deported. In footage shot by advocates, Lara’s children, one dressed in a U.S. flag-style hoodie, are seen tearfully clutching their dad. At one point, the camera cuts away so that Lara and his loved ones can say their goodbyes in private.
This is the dark vision Donald Trump and DHS Sec. John Kelly have for America, of tearing hard-working families apart while claiming that it’s only “bad hombres” they’re targeting.
That, of course, is a flat-out lie. And, it’s easy to claim you’re only targeting bad guys when you turn the other way and ignore scenes like the one that played out in a Cleveland airport earlier today. But they are happening. This is what mass deportation looks like. And this is what our government is sanctioning with our tax dollars and in our names.
If there’s one thing you watch today, make it this video of Jesus Lara saying goodbye to his family and home, and know that this is happening to immigrant families all across the country. It has been happening for years due to the deportation machine, but now on a crueler scale not seen in recent years, and unless we don’t stand up for our values and pressure both Democrats and Republicans, it will continue happening.