Thanksgiving Immigrant Says "I am In God's Hands"
As millions of Americans sit down to a Thanksgiving dinner and choose between turkey or beef, a high school graduate is sitting alone in an Ohio jail under an order of deportation. Eighteen-year-old Bernard Pastor said, “I am not worried. I am in God’s hands.”
Pastor was brought to the US along with his brother and sister when he was three years old. His parents, along with his uncle and family, applied for asylum. The two families were being persecuted because Pastor’s father was a Pentecostal minister out of step with the Catholic church. Being ostracized by a community in Guatemala is very different than in the U.S. Some families live under the fear of death for choosing a creed out of the norm.
Unfortunately, while Pastor’s uncle and cousins were granted asylum, his own family was denied asylum. His parents and siblings are under a deportation order and in hiding.
Pastor is second from Right. He was an ace soccer star in high school.
Only a higher power can say why one judge granted asylum to Pastor's uncle and another judge denied it to Pastor's family under nearly identical circumstances.
It took fast acting by two members of Congress – Sen. Sherrod Brown, (D-Oh.), and U.S. Rep. Steve Driehaus, (D-Oh.) to convince ICE to stay the deportation. The stay was granted with reluctance. ICE spokesperson Khaalid Walls left a chilling thought for Pastor to consider over the Thanksgiving weekend.
“It doesn’t negate the order. It’s a delay. Not a stay.”
Family and friends are optimistic Pastor will qualify for the Dream Act which comes up for a vote after the holiday. The Dream Act provides a narrow exception for children of undocumented workers. Their deportation is delayed pending enrollment into college or the U.S. military. If they complete their course of study, then they would qualify to apply as permanent residents. The law is not amnesty because it requires the student take affirmative steps to help himself and his community. Citizenship is not guaranteed and requires payment of a hefty fine and the student will have to pass a background check.Continued on the next page