BY ISN STAFF | January 29, 2020

On Wednesday, January 22, 2020, nine parents separated from their children under President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy and then deported were reunited with their families at Los Angeles International Airport. This is the first court-ordered return of deported parents separated from their children under the policy.

immigrant parents

One of the nine returning parents reunited with his daughter. [Photo courtesy of Saúl Rascón Salazar]

Linda Dakin-Grimm, a graduate of Loyola Marymount University and attorney for one of the families told The New York Times that “They all kind of hit the lottery. There are so many people out there who have been traumatized by the family separation policy whose pain is not going to be redressed.”

A group of students affiliated with Loyola Marymount University’s Resilience, the school’s immigrant rights activism group and campus immigrant support network, were at the airport for the reunion with signs of welcome, including the Ignatian Solidarity Network’s Campaign for Hospitality banner reading: “Bienvenidos Inmigrantes y Refugiados”—immigrants and refugees welcome. “I was there to show support and stand in solidarity and celebrate with the nine individuals who were arriving,” shared Saúl Rascón Salazar, a freshman at LMU and a graduate of Brophy College Prep, a Jesuit high school in Phoenix, Arizona. “It was my way of saying ‘Welcome back, you belong here!’ to the immigrants that were returning to their families here in the U.S.”

Loyola Marymount students

Loyola Marymount University students prepare to welcome returning parents at Los Angeles International Airport. [Photo courtesy of Saúl Rascón Salazar]

Salazar, a DACA recipient, has a significant history and connection with immigration organizing and activism. He became engaged in social justice and grassroots organizing work in 2017 as a student at Brophy and was a driving force of the DreamOn Campaign in Phoenix. He has spoken at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice about his personal story and advocacy work from the mainstage as an Ignatian Network Speaker in 2018 and at the Advocacy Public Witness in 2019

Salazar shared the following reflection with ISN after welcoming the nine returning parents at the airport: 

Last night was truly an emotional reality check that I had not felt since I was a student at Brophy College Prep. As we waited for what felt like hours, I began to realize what this arrival of the nine Guatemalan parents meant for the rest of the immigrant community. It was a sense of hope that is, currently, very much needed under not only this Administration but [during] this bizarre month of impeachment and Middle Eastern foreign affairs. As I held up the signs reading “David, Welcome Back” and “Bienvenido, Fernando!”, I felt like I was receiving two distant family members. In my hands were the names of two figures who had won a battle against oppression and xenophobic laws and that was enough for me to feel like my own family, from Mexico, had a chance in this so-called “Land of Opportunity.” As I waited with my group from Loyola Marymount University, I identified the main lawyer behind this case, Linda Dakin-Grimm, and began to feel immensely emotional because of my previous, not so happy experiences with actual, immediate family members being deported. Upon arrival, the resounding cheering and clapping lead to some emotional reunions that, in the clearest way possible, reminded me of why I want to go to law school. As the families held and cherished each other, healing began its course and everyone in the room surely felt it. Towards the end of the night, I was reminded that these are simply nine of the ten of thousands of deportations proudly reported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. There is very little hope—but hope nonetheless.

 

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