The (in)HUMAN(e) Face of Deportation.

URGENT UPDATE (4/10/13):

A Stay of Deportation was filed for Brenda Guzman, we need to make sure this stay of deportation is granted, and she is not deported TONIGHT at 4AM.

You can help.

Call ICE (sample phone script):

“I am calling in regards to Brenda Guzman (#A205324750) who is being held in Spanish Fork Utah. As a mother of 5 young U.S. citizens it is imperative that she stays in this country and is able to care for them. One of her children has special needs, that can and need to be addressed through the U.S. educational and health systems. As congress works on immigration reform please grant this stay of deportation so this mother can stay with her family”

1. CALL ICE regional office for Utah Todd McWhorter 801-886-7400

2. CALL ICE Deputy Public Advocate Mike Reid 202-732-4262

3. CALL ICE Director John Morton 202-732-3000

Sign the petition to Release Brenda Adanely Guzman-Sandoval, grant stay of deportation!


Stepping up to the glass-pane window, grabbing the phone that is to be our only means of contact, I look into the beautiful yet anxious face of Brenda Adanely Guzman-Sandoval in an orange jump suit. Suddenly overwhelmed by memories, I realize I haven’t been in a Utah county jail since the week after Tim got hauled off to prison in July 2011.

Before me this young woman, with tears in her eyes, is looking at me for comfort and the words that would liberate her from the harsh realities of the jail cell she’s been sitting in for the last 2 weeks, of guards terrorizing her with threats of imminent departure, unethically coercing her into signing “voluntary deportation papers,” and of the inhumane conditions of our county jails. Over the last few days, members of our community (*groups listed below) have spent hours strategizing, getting on the phone with lawyers, going to Congress members’ offices, encouraging a mass petition drive, and supporting Brenda’s family – including her parents, siblings and her five U.S. citizen children (all of whom are under the age of 6). Thanks to grassroots organizing, her deportation (which was originally set for 4am on Thursday April 4th, 2013) has been delayed. But not for long.

Her story is heartbreaking. One of a struggling mother, on the verge of being evicted from her home, looking for any means to maintain a roof over her children’s heads and bread in their mouths. That of an immigrant whose past mistakes will haunt her beyond reason – when the media portrays a speeding ticket or a late credit card payment as a criminal history that warrants strict punishment. The typical story of a broken immigration system, of the double standards of our penal system, and the institutionalized criminalization of poverty. The tale of a young woman, like many others, who has spent her entire life here, about to be deported and thrown into the streets of a country she’s unfamiliar with.


The standards by which immigrants are being judged are in themselves oppressive: “Don’t make any mistake, however small, or you’ll be forsaking any chance of becoming a permanent resident or citizen.” Ironic that this should be the golden rule, when we look at the history of this country: a society built on blood, tears, colonization, cultural and ethnic genocide. I’m reminded of  how Ponka-We Victors (a member of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma and the Tohono O’odham Nation, and the only Native American in the Kansas State Legislature) recently turned the tables at an immigration hearing in Kansas: “I think it’s funny Mr. Kobach, because when you mention illegal immigrant, I think of all of you.'”

[pullquote align=”left”]”Human beings can be beautiful or more beautiful, they can be fat or skinny, they can be right or wrong, but illegal? How can a human being be illegal?” -Elie Weisel-[/pullquote]

Furthermore, while the Obama administration and Congress claim they would like to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill sometime this year, why is no action being taken to halt deportations during this process? When Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) still has a quota of 400,000 annual deportations, one has to wonder how many people are currently being held in detention centers unfit for any living beings, awaiting the final authority that will deem them too “illegal” to be here. And how many responsible and hard-working Dreamers are being denied a legitimate pathway to citizenship via DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), when all they’ve known are our classrooms, our neighborhoods, and our work force.

The powers-that-be have a vested interest in keeping us divided, along class and racial lines, within geographical spaces and on the issues we organize around. Thus our responsibility, as community organizers, is to connect the dots between social injustices and environmental degradation, to build networks of support and solidarity, and to protect our most vulnerable community members. A genuine commitment to radical inclusion within our climate justice framework means bringing those most marginalized voices to the core of our decision-making and planning processes.

Migrant Rights are Human Rights are Environmental Rights.

This is what Climate Justice looks like.

*Groups who’ve been organizing to halt Brenda’s deportation include: Salt Lake Dream Team, Salt Lake Prison Divestment Campaign, Federation of Mexican Clubs of Utah, United for Social Justice, Move to Amend SLC, and Peaceful Uprising.