An undocumented Emporia man aided law enforcement, and now he faces deportation. His family waits in Emporia for word that their husband and father will be sent back to his native El Salvador. After 10 years, four children (a fifth on the way), a completed GED and words of praise from many that know him, Julio Berti still found it difficult to gain citizenship in the United States.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement took Berti into custody about eight months ago, and he is currently detained at the Caldwell County Detention Center in Kingston, Mo., where he awaits deportation.
The reason behind his incarceration is still unclear. But the community outreach toward the Berti family, the testimonials to that end and Berti’s marriage to Lorena Zamora-Berti, a legal U.S. resident, begs the question of accessibility. How can we promote our country as open and welcoming – “the land of the free” – when it is so clearly entangled in bureaucratic roadblocks?
Some believe Berti had it coming, that he was in the country without proper authority and that deportation is a logical reaction to his presence. But his citizenship is not the issue here.
What matters more is that he cooperated with the government, evident by his interactions with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and was still at a loss for legalization.
Perhaps the rhetoric around illegal immigration doesn’t reflect the reality. Attaining a green card or work visa might not be as cut-and-dry as previously thought.
It’s imperative that Berti’s story take center stage in discussions of immigration in America because it speaks to not only the individual character of the deportees, but the law enforcement we entrust to regulate our borders. People are not disposable.
State and Federal agencies need to work toward the same end, which should be the legalization of workers in the U.S. Emporians are rallying behind the Berti family, but it might already be too late. They recognize an injustice when they see it, but instances like this make us wonder how much goes unseen. How many families are separated under similar circumstances? It might be more than we think.
Take Action: Urge Senator Durbin to Help Stop Julio’s Deportation
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