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This is a
copy of a story from the New York times. It hurts me so
much to know this kind of thing is going on. People
controling others, without caring about them. Caring vs
control. A fundamental problem with governments, schools,
institutions, corporations, businesses. I feel
embarrassed, ashamed that the country I lived most of my
life in treats other human beings this way. It hurts more
to think of the person called the president there now. It
depresses me. I barely have enough energy to write this
and post it.
March 2 2017
In December 2015, I was heading to the library
here at Berea College to study for finals when I got a
call from my mothers lawyer. He said Ma was
fighting deportation to Ghana, and I would need to write
an affidavit explaining why she should be allowed to stay
in the United States.
The phone call redirected me, zombielike, across the quad
to my dorm. I sat at my computer in a daze of anger and
sadness, glaring at the blank screen as if it were the
face of Immigration and Customs Enforcement itself.
I couldnt believe this was happening again.
My father had been deported abruptly three years earlier
when I was still in high school. He was expelled after
overstaying his tourist visa, the same reason my mother
was facing deportation. His absence was unbearable, and
the confusion and shame that came with it eroded my
confidence. Most of my friends in Columbus, Ohio, had no
way of understanding what I was going through, and I
worried many would actually approve of the
governments tearing our family apart.
Last week, President Trump announced new plans to crack
down on immigrants. Immigration agents have been told to
deport anyone they see fit who is living here without
documentation. This is a significant change from the
Obama administration, which told agents to pursue only
those convicted of serious crimes. As my family learned,
the agents didnt always stick to those rules. We
got a heartbreaking taste of what this new regime will
Back in my dorm after the lawyers call, I tried to
detail the advantages of keeping my mother in the
country. But how was I supposed to explain the importance
of a mother? Should I write about how my father was the
one who pushed me in my studies, while my mother brought
life to everything else in my world? That she infused the
lives of my sisters and me with Ghanaian culture and
taught us how to cook traditional dishes? Her Ghanaian
doughnuts bofrot were so popular with our
neighbors and our friends at church that she sold them
for extra cash. Did this make her more worthy of staying?
Continue reading the main story
I was panicked. My mother had always been there for me,
my rock, just as faith was hers. Even in times of immense
stress like when my father was deported she
didnt complain. She simply took a seat to pray.
I couldnt muster that kind of strength. I climbed
into bed and turned out the lights.
I cant say how long I lay there before Shona, my
roommate of two years, came home. She listened to my
story and took charge. She emailed my professors and
advisers to ask for a leave of absence for me. She
convinced me that I didnt need to stay at school
for finals out of a misguided belief that it would show
that my family was worthy of America.
I gathered my things and caught a ride home to Columbus.
My four sisters and I accompanied Ma to the Immigration
and Customs Enforcement court hearing in Cleveland. We
argued that she should be allowed to stay in the United
States with us because she was not an enforcement
priority, someone who was a threat to national
security, public safety and border security. We had
lived in the United States for 15 years, having arrived
in 2000 when I was 4. The judge wasnt moved.
I took time off from school to be with my mother but was
still very supported by Berea. My advisers and professors
let me delay my exams, and the college president even
wrote an affidavit on my mothers behalf.
Still, a few months later, my sisters and I found
ourselves packing up our home to send Ma on her way.
Neighbors and members of the church were there, lifting
boxes and stuffing us full of food. We said goodbye.
It has been more than a year now since the lawyers
devastating call. I talk with my parents we use
WhatsApp when there is a good internet connection in
Ghana but its terrible not to have them
here. I dont know when I will see them again. My
sisters and I have no family home.
Now I am becoming increasingly afraid for my own future
in this country. I, too, am undocumented, and I
dont want to leave the only country Ive ever
really known. For now, Im still safe from
deportation. I was part of the first class of college
students to qualify for President Barack Obamas
2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative.
It protects from deportation undocumented individuals who
arrived in the United States before age 16 and makes them
eligible for a two-year workers permit. The
directives President Trump issued last week dont
change that. But when my permit expires, will he renew
it, when virtually anyone else who is undocumented in the
United States is in danger of deportation?
Before my father left the country, he told me to keep my
head straight and stay focused that there were
people in worse situations. My mother reminded us
daughters to trust in God and take care of one another. I
try to channel their bravery, but I am scared and worried
for other families like mine.
Paola Benefo is a junior at Berea College.
Components of EQI.org
Respect | Empathy
Caring | Listening
Invalidation | Hugs
Depression | Education
Parenting | Personal Growth
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