Putting a Face on Immigration

immigation reformIt could be easy for us here in Iowa to dismiss the need for immigration reform, and delegate debate of the issue to our country’s border states.

But as we’ve been reminded in heartbreaking fashion recently, our defective immigration system can tear apart families right here in the heart of the country.

Max Villatoro, a pastor at First Mennonite Church and a married father of four, was arrested outside his home in Iowa City on March 3 during a nationwide sweep by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that targeted convicted criminals living in the country illegally. After initially being held at the Linn County Jail in Cedar Rapids, he was relocated to the LaSalle Detention Facility in Jena, La., awaiting deportation to his home country of Honduras.

Villatoro came to the U.S. in 1995. Four years later, he pleaded guilty to tampering with records (trying to obtain a driver’s license) and served a suspended sentence. He also has a past drunken driving conviction.

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