Termination of Illegitimate Deportation Order Denied - A New Battle Begins!

Post-Immigration Hearing Reflections: August 26, 2019

Saturday morning, August 24, 2019, 11:40AM. I've just returned from a hardcore workout with my trainer at the gym then to pop into a meeting in Christian Park with community leaders who are funding an art installation as part of the Arts Council of Indianapolis and Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Indy Art and Seek program. The meeting, the second in a series of planning meetings, was held to provide an opportunity for the community to learn about what will be a temporary art installation funded by the Lilly Endowment and referred to as an "art intervention."

Despite resident support in the 700-member private community group on Facebook, residents did not show up.  As the President of the neighborhood association, I was particularly disappointed as I've worked to inspire resident participation and am excited to have such great attention from outside organizations who are willing to bring the arts into our community. But, the disappointment can not compare to the sadness, fear, and anger I feel following yet another setback in our fight to rectify the illegitimate deportation order that's been hanging over our heads since Trump was elected.

Minutes before the start of the meeting, our assigned artist, Beatriz Vazquez - a lightning rod of a Latina who uses her voice and platform as a recognized artist to call awareness to the injustice and inhumane tragedies LatinX and immigrant families are facing, sent an email to cancel her participation in the morning meeting as well. Her last-minute call of the conscious was inspired by her need to participate in a walk for peace in honor of Latinx youth who had been slain in the mass-shootings in an El Paso, Texas Walmart store on August 3, 2019.

As with all efforts involving the Latinx community in these days where fear weighs heavy on most non-white immigrants, few attended the public venue. Thanks to the target painted by the Trump administration, fear of assembling in public places is very real. It doesn't happen! Attending large events in public might leave them open to discrimination, hate, or worse, the harrassment and profiling of ICE. Most were a no-show.

Having met Beatriz to discuss the project prior to our trip to Chicago immigration courts, I was amazed at the synchronicity of it all. Motivated by the injustice that has immigrants across the nation living in fear, Beatriz's plans for her art contribution to our community to be a mural, sculpture, or combination of both, that will bring awareness to the topic of immigration, family separations, incarcerations, and deportations. Her goal, rightfully so, is to demonstrate the horrify injustice that's happening to the people in every community, the many families or guys nextdoor like us.

After Saturday's meetings, I escaped to a quiet weekend in our Indy home. Enrique and I worked on projects around the house to avoid our monkey minds filled with disappointment and fear. Between the downtime, the respite in a movie or two, and a few home improvement projects, we must have launched into thirty different conversations about the horrific situation we now find ourselves facing as we mulled over the various options.

Should we keep fighting the relentless and irrational battle with immigration or should we give up and self-deport, leaving behind family, friends, our business, and country where I was born and grew up in? In what country in Central America should we start anew? Should we simply leave or should we stay at least until the April 20th court date as we continue to leave no stone unturned in pursuit of every legal remedy to make an decade-old deportation order go away?

Monday morning, August 26th, 10:19AM. After a few days of recalibrating our thoughts following the trip to Chicago immigration courts, and the intense disappointment that our termination of the deportation order was denied, I am now shifting gears to prepare for our next battle in our rise against the Trump Administration's corruption in immigration. We've decided to stay! We've decided to fight!

Up at 5AM for 20 minutes of focused meditation, by 6AM I'm taking on high-intensity training on the treadmill at the gym as I've been working out and taking steps to improve my health since January (also a part of the prep for the battle we've been in). Empowered by the goals of a 50-year-old who is ambitious about self-improvement, body, mind, and Spirit, I am focused.

While working out my toxic frustrations, noise-canceling headphones block the hum of the belt under my feet and the clank of others lifting heavy weights nearby. Tuning in to my typical morning motivation, I listen to videos on YouTube. Today was one of those days when I pulled out the inspirational favorites as heavy lifting was seriously needed (no pun intended).

While I'm not a religious man (more of a self-proclaimed Spiritual guy here), I often find myself listening to inspiring videos that share the wisdom of various pastors. Non-denominational in my consumption of motivation, earlier this year I'd found my way to a video that has become my go-to when it comes to needing to level-up on inspiration and support. This morning was one of those mornings when I was in need of the heavy-lifting help.

The loss of our freedom, safety, and certainty about our future, at the hands of corruption in the court system (and shifting discriminatory policies coming out of Washington) is not a pleasant energy to contend with. We must fight to protect ourselves and others before we lose ourselves to the domination and control that is making its way into the American way of life via the totalitarian oppressive regime that is the Trump administration. Why so many people can not see it, I'll never understand, but from where we sit its clear to see, freedom is lost in this modern age USA.

A reminder of how critical our mind and our thoughts are for maintaining focus, I turn to an ole standby to lift my spirits and bring me back around to empowerment for the more significant battle that is just ahead.

On this morning, as I digest the pain and disappointment of this major setback that could quite literally change the direction of the rest of our lives, I watched (for the thousandth time), a video chock-full of the wise words of Pastors TD Jakes and Joel Osteen. The furthest from a religious man, I find comfort in the Spiritual words.

Transcript of essential points and translation of my thoughts below:

"It is not the movement of the clock that produces the newness of life... it is the movement in your mind. You're going to hear all kinds of things said about you. Throw it behind you. The enemies you see today, you will see them no more. No weapons formed against you shall be able to prosper. Every tongue that rises against you God (Spirit) will condemn. This is my time. The truth of the matter is, everybody in here is going through a change. You don't have to be ashamed of yours. We are all in the process of transforming to a higher and better expression of thyself. Let this be the year that I am the higher and better expression of myself. Don't let the habits of my past, stop me from this metamorphosis. New year -- new me! New year -- new me!"

In the gym and in the meditations, I've focused my every effort since January to lose weight, get into better shape, and to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Now eight months later, I'm reaching my goals as I'm in the best shape I've ever been, due in part to my focus, a great trainer, and the inspirational videos.

I took on neighborhood development full-speed ahead, including writing and receiving two grants to help with neighborhood programs. I've launched a major initiative to clean-up an overgrown waterway to restore the natural habitat of a creek that runs through our community and to improve accessibility so that neighbors might soon enjoy the water, land, and natural habitat in the heart of our neighborhood.

Since January, I've kicked into gear my new mind, new year, and renewed focus, and it has paid off in many ways except one - immigration - which frankly is out of our control and in the hands of politicians who have changed policy on a whim while publishing lies, deception, and creating fear, all the while targeting and separating families and creating extreme hardship among nearly every non-white immigrant on American soil.

The enemies we see today must be dealt with! I'm working on a personal transformation as I... the white, male, U.S. citizen, spouse, must rise up for those who can't! I have a voice where others can't be heard.

"What separates us - transformation, the possibility of change, the desire to evolve, the passion to get up off the ground and stop eating dirt. I'm tired of doing what I used to do. If I always do what I've always done, I'll always be where I've always been. I'm going to throw it behind me. There's somebody in this room that nobody would think would be in this church tonight, but you drew them to this place tonight because you want them to be a new me in a new year and have a new attitude and new mind because the real battleground is in your mind. That's where the fight is... you lay down with it, you get up with it, you go to work with it, you can't digest your food because of it, smiling in front of people and nobody knows that there's gunfire going off in your head.

It's not a geographical location, it's not debt, it's not money, it's not haters, it's not enemies, it's not liars, it's not backbiters, that's not the battleground. Stop wasting your weapons on what people say because it's not what they say about you that matters, it is what you say about you that threatens your destiny. You will never be defeated by what they say about you... you will be defeated by what you say about you."

It's very hard not to be defeated by the self-talk that often hears the voice of defeat! Countless days I want to throw my hands in the air and quit! Case in point, maintaining this blog from which I previously had to stop writing to save myself from living in a constant battle against hate, all the while finding my own heart and soul to be filled with the same anger and hate I sought to avoid.

Are you committed? Because without commitment, nothing happens. If you don't learn to "give' like you learn to "get" every area that there is not reciprocity, it will die! Reciprocity! What do you give back for what you get? You're not committed you're not going to make it. Even the ones with the personalities you don't like. You have to be committed. Through the storm, and the rain, and the heartache, and the pain, you have to believe in the "we" and the "us" not the "me" and the "you" or you're not going to make it. It's a commitment, it's not a feeling!

We have chosen to fight for the tens of thousands of immigrants who are unable to stand up for themselves. One of the cornerstones of our relationship is that it has always been more about "we" and "us" and not the "me" and "you" as giving to and caring for others, our community, our clients, our employees, our families, and our friends, is who we are as individuals and even stronger in who we have become in our union.

Until you've had the taste of finishing, you will not respect yourself. Until you follow through until something is done come hell or high water, tears and struggles and pain, and you go through it anyway, and you show up, and you continue to fight on - no matter the circumstances. After a while, something begins to wither inside of you. Anytime you need something you can't give to yourself you are at the mercy of somebody else, and when they don't come through, you've got pain. And what you become is the consequences of what you didn't get.

Pervertedly under the control of this administration (for now), we will be winners no matter where we land! As U.S. residents or living in a Central American country, we will overcome the pain of being targeted and outcast by this administration! We will taste the finish one-way-or-the-other as we take on the fight with our heads held high! Bullying, xenophobia, and hate must not prevail!

"It's an urge, truth be told, every champion has felt it, every president has felt it, every king has felt it, every lion has felt it, every winner has felt it, every soldier has felt it, every victorious person has felt it... the urge to quit! Don't you give up on your dream! I don't care if you don't have the money, you don't have the help, you don't have the family for it, you don't have the background for it, and you don't have the friends for it... don't you give up on your dream! Don't you do it! Don't you do it! Don't you do it! It may take you twice as long. You may have to take courses and classes, you might not read as fast, you might not move as quick, you might not have as much, but don't you quit! Don't you quit! You do make a difference! You do make a difference! You do make a difference! As weak as you are, as tired as you are, as many mistakes as you made...you do make a difference! There's something they would lose if you were not there, there's something that they would miss if you were not there...you do make a difference!"

We have decided to fight for those who have no voice in a potentially precedent-setting case against immigration that promises to help tens of thousands of immigrants who are currently being unjustly deported, we will rise up! Our next day in court is April 20, 2020. We will not quit!

"We all have things that we're believing for, dreams we want to accomplish, problems we're hoping will turn around. Maybe its to see our family restored, to lose some weight, to break an addiction, to start our own business but, sometimes as it goes on month-after-month, even year-after-year, we don't see anything changing, it's easy to get discouraged and think, its never going to happen. This is as good as it gets. I'll just learn to live with it."

For immigrants living in American in these times, the heartache, loss, and disappointments are many. Our setbacks and frustrations have been hard to comprehend, painful, costly in dollars, time, emotions, and worry. Like us, most immigrant families have so much at stake. For many, a pathway to stay in the U.S. could mean the difference between life or death (hence their seeking asylum in the states). The same could be said for Enrique, who is fearful that his being deported will place him as a target for the violent gangs of El Salvador. It's generally believed that I will be the subject of extortion attempts as a white, American, expatriate in the country may look like easy picking. We'll never accept less than freedom, and we certainly won't "learn to live with" the hate, pain, and fear the Trump administration is creating in the hearts and minds of many throughout the globe.

"We all go through disappointments, setbacks, loss. Pain is a part of life. It's easy to get discouraged - even bitter - thinking, 'Why is this happening to me?' Sometimes we look at pieces in our lives that don't make sense. The key is what we do in our times of pain. The pain will change us. Heartache, loss, disappointments, they don't leave us the same. Every painful time, even though you don't like it, its developing something in you that can only be developed in the tough times. Eventually, that will pass. You will get through it, but you will be different.

In those tough times, when you're uncomfortable going through a loss, dealing with an illness, you could easily let it overwhelm you. Now, how the pain changes you is up to you. You could come out 'bitter,' or you could come out 'better.' You can come out defeated, giving up on your dreams, or you can come out with a new passion a new fire excited about the new opportunity in front of you. I may not like it - but I'm not a 'whiner' - I'm a 'warrior' - I know I can handle this. Don't complain about the pain. Without the pain, we couldn't reach the fullness of our destiny. Sometimes we bring pain on ourselves. We make poor choices, get in a relationship that we know is not good, or maybe get over our head in our spending. Now its the pain and were having to deal with the consequences.

All of us experience pain - my challenge - don't just 'go' through it, 'grow' through it. That difficulty is an opportunity to get stronger, to develop character, to gain new confidence. Anybody can give up. Anybody can let it overwhelm them. But you know what that is doing? Wasting your pain. That pain is not there to stop you its there to prepare you, to increase you, to develop you. Difficulties are part of life. Now, quit telling yourself you can't take it. You're not weak - you are well able."

We shall not "waste our pain" by caving to the targets of the bully! We will continue to rise up for equality, fairness, freedom, and human-centered immigration reform that first addresses the humanitarian aspects of this battle as opposed to running the country and immigration programs out of fear of losing one's country to the brown folk. Show me how this country was ever the white man's land before the conquerors arrived anyhow! Through our pain, we find strength, tenacity, confidence, and capacity for taking this all the way to the supreme court if necessary! The battle is for human rights! The struggle is to stop the inhumane treatment being handed down by this illegitimate administration.

"Eventually, the pain will pass. you'll give birth to new strength. Just because it hasn't happened yet, doesn't mean it's not going to happen. There will always be forces trying to convince us to settle where we are. Life has a way of pushing our dreams down. They can become buried under discouragement, buried under past mistakes. There are dreams buried under divorce -- buried under low self-esteem. It's easy to settle for mediocrity even though we have all this potential buried on the inside. What are you remembering, the hurt, the pain, what didn't work out? Turn it around and remember your dream."

We are a married couple with an immigration approved marriage whom this administration is attempting to isolate and outcast as less-than deserving of freedom in the states. Our dream is to live in peace, love, and freedom just the same as most other humans on the planet. Our dream is to work, build a home for ourselves, and build a future wherein we may one day retire and enjoy what remains of our human bodies in older age. Our dream is to be together, to stay together, to care for each other, to grow with each other, to love each other, and to give back to the world. We seek to love, laugh, work, play, make a lasting impression on this world, and simply be together as a family exploring all the magic that life has to offer in this 21st century. No walls, no borders, no ethnicity, no race, no bullying, no hate, no politicians or feeble-minded president can take that away!

"Have you allowed any dreams to get buried in you? At one time, you believed you could do something great. You believed you could lead the company in sales. You believed you could break that addiction. It's been a long time, and you've had some bad breaks that wasn't all your fault. You could easily settle where you are; nobody would fault you. The enemy would love to deceive you into burying your dreams, thinking its never going to work out. Don't believe those lies. It's not too late to become all that you were created to be."

It's not too late for us to win the right to be a married couple living together in the United States freely!

"Every time you remember your dream your removing some dirt, your digging it back out. The true mark of a champion is even though some dirt gets thrown on your dream, instead of letting it get buried, you keep shaking it off. You keep moving forward. You wouldn't be having that opposition if you didn't have something great in you. If your dream wasn't alive and on track, right on schedule to come to pass, you wouldn't have so many things coming against you. That dream is still alive! You may have tried a year ago, five years ago, or 40-years ago. Didn't work out? Nobody was there to help you. Go back and try again! This is your time! This is your moment! Your destiny is calling out to you!

Can I tell you, your dream is not dead; it's just not in season. Your time is coming. Promotion is coming! Good breaks are coming! Promises you've been standing on! Dreams you've been praying about! Lack is not your destiny! Constantly struggling, barely getting by is not the end of your story. These life afflictions are for a moment. The adversity is temporary! The glory is eternal!"

We will rise above the current limitation and be stronger for it in the end!

"There are some dreams shut up in you. Like fire, you're going to feel your destiny calling out. May not have happened the first time. The loan didn't go through, you didn't get chosen for the part, the medical report wasn't good...that's okay, it's still in you. This is your time! This is your moment! Shake off the doubt. Shake off the negativity. You're at the right place. You're at the right time. Now all you've got to do is get in the right frame of mind. 

What I believe, this is my year to get healthy and whole. This is my year to meet the people of my dreams. This is my year to go further in my career, to step into a new level of my destiny. This is my year to accomplish dreams, to break free from this depression. This is my year to meet the right people. This is my year to get healthy and whole. This is your year to see double. This is your year for vindication, for restoration, for new beginnings. Now get your mind going in the right direction!"

In January 2019, I declared this is our year! I watch this video over and again to maintain emotions and focus. Despite the recent immigration setback, we will rise again! This is our time! From all the work we do in our community including the soon to be installed "art intervention" in the park and our efforts to cleaning up 5.5 acres of an overgrown and unkempt waterway, to winning the unjust battle with U.S. Immigration, we will prevail! We will not give up on our dream! We will not quit!

See the news about our journey here. Or visit the library from our 2018 - What About Us? Peaceful Resistance Rally for Human-Centered Immigration Reform.

Quotations are taken from - TD Jakes and Joel Osteen, YouTube video presentation: 
LIVE YOUR DREAMS - New Motivational Video Compilation full-video provided by MotivationHub.