One year's time

By Ashourina Slewo

It’s baffling how much can happen in one year.


One year ago, when I encouraged my father to seek the help of an immigration attorney, I had no idea that exactly one week later he would be one of hundreds caught in raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). But he was.

This is not my first column about the deportation crisis and it probably won’t be the last.

On June 11, 2017, I stood in my father’s doorway, facing at least four ICE agents. I feigned confidence in an attempt to show them I was not scared. I knew, though, that no amount of confidence or knowledge of my rights would stop them from leaving that apartment with my father in tow.

Our community has been exceedingly fortunate to have had an organization like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – who worked with the Chaldean Community Foundation – standing in the face of the government and defending us. The ACLU, and the countless others that didn’t receive even half the recognition they deserved, came out to help us when no one else would.

They bought us more time than anyone could have imagined. Time that would allow our loved ones the opportunity to stay in this country.

For several months after ICE picked my dad up, I was on auto pilot. All I could think about was the next step. What could I do next? What would bring me one step closer to seeing my father again? I would not have been able to do any of the things I did had it not been for the ACLU and their massive network of people eager to help.

The ACLU and their co-counsel fought the government and won. How many people can say that? They bought us time, they provided us with the resources we so desperately needed, and they brought a majority of families back together.

In one year’s time, I lost my father to immigration so the president could earn political brownie points among his equally delusional followers, I fought for his life, and have succeeded in bringing him back home.

Most importantly, though, a whole new world has opened up for me. A world within my own community.

In this world, I have found individuals that stepped up for hundreds of families, not for the notoriety, but for the love of the community. Individuals that consistently fight back as the government tries to carry out the unethical act of deporting hundreds of people. They have nothing to gain from this fight. Their fathers, brothers, and uncles are safe and at home. Nevertheless, they fight for us.

In addition to the truly amazing people that have come out to support the Chaldean community, another silver lining in all this, is our community now knows who has our best interest in mind. And if you think that person is Trump or any member of his administration, you must have been asleep for the last year.

In one year’s time, I have had to fight against the government I was raised to believe cared for its people and won, for the most part. On the other hand, though, I have had the privilege of watching our community come together in a way I never thought possible.