An interfaith delegation of religious leaders traveled to Central America last month to study the root causes of migration. While in Honduras, they had a chance to visit with Pastor Max, a Mennonite pastor from Iowa City who was deported from the U.S. in March. One of the participants reflected on the visit:
The adjustment has been difficult. After 20 years in the U.S., Pastor Max almost seems more comfortable speaking in English than Spanish. He has lost some of his vocabulary. To avoid the widespread violence in Honduras, he has has to live far off in the countryside. “There’s nothing for me here.” Everything in Pastor Max`s life is in the US.: his family, his work, his community near Iowa City and the jointly led ministry with his wife.
Our visit happened to coincide with a visit by pastor Max’s four U.S. citizen children, ages 7-14, who had come to visit, seeing their father again for the first time, since he was deported. Read more
One of the members of the delegation had a chance to testify last week at her local County Board of Supervisors meeting about how federal immigration enforcement programs affect those like Pastor Max.
On March 3, Pastor Max was picked up in a sweep of immigrants that ICE had determined to be a threat to public safety. Though his “criminal” cases were closed appropriately, it didn’t matter. Though he has lived in Iowa for 20 years, though he went to college and seminary, though he became a licensed Mennonite pastor, though he got married and has four United States citizen children in Iowa, none of this mattered. With no explanation, no due process, he was deported and his four children are now left without a father – not only an important source of love and care but also the primary contributor to the family’s finances. Read more