#Resist Deportations on Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day in Utah, and some mothers are on our minds.

One of these mothers is Teresa. She has a disabled son and an octogenarian mother. She cared for them both in her home in Draper, Utah, until last month when she was taken on an airplane on by armed immigration agents and dropped off in a country she left over twenty-five years ago. She is in Colombia now, without her family.

It’s Mother’s Day in Utah and we’re missing Martha, a mother grabbed and handcuffed by ICE agents in a WalMart parking lot in West Valley. We learned about it from her daughter’s cell phone video, which she recorded as she watched her mother being pushed into a dark SUV. Days later, Martha was dropped on the other side of a big wall in Mexico, a country she left as a child forty years before.

It’s Mother’s Day in Utah, and we’re missing Emma Ondeko Bwika, who was taken from her son and community in March of this year. She was deported to Kenya along with her husband. Utah was her home for eleven years before she was forced to leave because she didn’t have the right ‘papers’, because some database somewhere said she didn’t have the right to be here with us. Members of her mosque have since lived in fear they will be targeted because of their Muslim faith.

It’s Mother’s Day in Utah, and we’re grateful to still have Silvia here, the young mother of three children. We stood with her husband, children, and congregation as they cried and sang hymns at a press conference asking for her release. Her husband Carlos said he didn’t know how to explain to his small children that their mother was behind bars. Answering the pressure from the community, ICE has released Silvia for now, allowing her to continue seeking permanent residency status.

It’s Mother’s Day in Utah, and we hear that another mother was stolen from us, taken out of the parking lot of a school, where she came to pick up one of her four young children. We are waiting to hear what happens next. But ‘waiting’ is an inadequate word for the violent uncertainty that her family must feel. Will they lose their mother to the impersonal tangle of the deportation machine, or will they have her home to share next Mother’s Day?

It’s Mother’s Day in Utah, and we’re wondering what new holes ICE will tear into the fabric of our families, churches, and neighborhoods. Who else they’ll steal away.

Mother’s Day started in the U.S. as an anti-war demonstration. In 1870 Julia Ward Howe wrote that war robs children from their mothers. There is a new War on Mothers, where powerful and strong-hearted women are torn away from us and sent to live somewhere else, often times sent back to the poverty and violence that caused them to flee in the first place.

The word “war” is no exaggeration. Armed government agents are hunting down mothers in schools and supermarkets and craft stores. In addition to the immediate harm done to the women detained and deported, immigration agents are causing maximum harm to our entire community, stealing away the people who are most central to it.

The first Mother’s Day Proclamation insisted: “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies.” ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has proven itself an irrelevant agency, not equipped to answer the great question of who gets to stay with us and who must be locked in a cell and exiled to another country.

It’s Mother’s Day in Utah, and we mourn the mothers missing. We want them back. And we also shout “Ni Una Más” — not one more — and pledge to fight alongside the mothers who remain.

As part of your celebration, we ask you to share these stories.

We ask you to keep these mothers in your hearts today.

We ask you to march, protest, vote against deporters, and donate to groups like Comunidades Unidas, to support their fight to keep families together.

Image by Stefan Poulos, from a Salt Lake City march in April 2017

#NiUnaMás #MothersAgainstICE #StoptheWarOnMothers #MadresContraLaMigra