On July 3, 2008, a 9-months-pregnant mother named Juana Villegas was pulled over by the Berry Hill Police in Nashville, Tennessee. Two days later, Juana found herself shackled during labor and denied a breast pump while she was in the custody of the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office under Sheriff Daron Hall. Her shackling was a direct result of Hall’s 287(g) agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In April of this year, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee said this treatment was illegal and unconstitutional, and just last week, a federal jury awarded her $200,000 in damages.
The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition has put together a petition asking for Sheriff Hall to offer an apology to Juana. Click here for more information.
I was in a Justice For Our Neighbors meeting last week (an amazing faith-based organization that is providing counsel and assistance on legal issues to immigrants) when I learned about a young lady named Mercedes Gonzalez. Mercedes was brought to the U.S. when she was 2 and has been a successful newcomer to Nashville. She has thrived in school, excelling academically, and playing soccer and violin with great joy. She was scheduled to graduate from Overton High School a few weekends ago when she got a little excited driving one day, exceeding the speed limit by 8 miles an hour. Where most of us would simply get a speeding ticket, the officer that pulled her over made a decision to arrest Mercedes, handcuff her, and take her downtown for booking on a misdemeanor speeding charge. This, of course, ensured that she was entered into the immigration screening process at the jail known as 287G, and was thus flagged for deportation as an undocumented alien.
Mercedes has never known life in Mexico. Her entire life has been in the American context. She is an American as any of our kids — have gone to and thrived in American schools. Under the proposed DREAM Act that congress keeps sitting on, Mercedes would be at the top of the list for obtaining a path to citizenship. However , for political expediency, this act continues to be deferred and an entire generation of wonderful kids face a very unknown future of deportation to a land that they have never known.
Through Justice for our Neighbors, Mercedes has been linked to the United We Dream organization which is working to pass this act, and more importantly to appeal deportation proceedings for kids like Mercedes who will become productive (and tax paying) members of our society. I encourage you to visitthis site to sign a petition in support of Mercedes, helping our leaders know that we don’t want to abandon the kids of our community, but to help them grow up into successful folks who make our world a better place.
Mercedes wants to be a doctor, helping other people live fruitful and productive lives.
Won’t you help her in have a similar outcome?
CLICK HERE to support Mercedes…
Clergy Advisory Council Member
TnJFON supporters are cordially invited to attend the screening of a documentary short entitled “Jasmine’s Story.” Produced by TnJFON board member Jan Snider, the video features the story of a Michigan teenager left behind when her parents were deported and the extraordinary response by the local faith community. The video is part of the Women’s Work Showcase and Celebration, sponsored by the Tennessee Women’s Theater Project. Tickets for the evening are $ 5.00 and include a variety of artistic works by local women. “Jasmine’s Story” screens Thursday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m., at the Looby Theater, 2301 Rosa Parks Blvd. For more information: 615-681-7220 or twtp.org.
A flyer for the event can accessed at this link:
JFON of Tennessee was recently featured in hernashville magazine. Click here to read the article online.