by Greg Moses
Friday, Dec. 24, 2010 at 5:38 AM
Although 21-year-old Hector Lopez has reportedly been told that he can be released from a migrant detention center in Florence, AZ, he has also been advised that the paperwork for his release cannot be completed until after Christmas. But Dallas immigration advocate Ralph Isenberg is pressing for a pre-Christmas release.
"Instead of [Hector] playing bingo in Florence," wrote Isenberg to ICE officials Wednesday afternoon, "I hope you agree that his attending midnight mass with his mother and brother and being together on Christmas day is far more meaningful and in the best interests of all parties."
In support of a pre-Christmas release for the college student who is seeking return to America following an abrupt deportation last summer, Isenberg says he plans to sponsor a Thursday morning visit to Phoenix ICE offices by Rev. Peter Johnson of Dallas. Rev. Johnson, an original disciple of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and current head of the Peter Johnson Institute for Non-Violence, plans to offer himself to ICE officials in exchange for Lopez.
In a press release circulated Wednesday evening, Johnson said he is “plenty used to being behind bars for a good cause” and added he would be “happy to stand in for Hector Lopez."
“This man and his family have suffered enough and I’m coming to Arizona with my Bible in one hand and my toothbrush in the other,” said Rev. Johnson. When asked why he would do this Rev. Johnson stated, "This is the season of good will to all men and Hector deserves mercy."
At Wednesday's press conference President Barack Obama called the failure to pass the DREAM Act "my biggest disappointment" and said it was "heartbreaking" when students who have grown up in America find themselves under threat of deportation--"under this shadow of fear through no fault of their own." The President promised to be persistent in pursuit of the DREAM Act, which would allow such students to apply for citizenship.
"I've got to spend some time talking to the American people," said the President, "and others have to spend time talking to the American people, because I think that if the American people knew any of these kids -- they probably do, they just may not know their status -- they'd say, of course we want you. That's who we are. That's the better angels of our nature.
"I am persistent," declared the President. "If I believe in something strongly, I stay on it. And I believe strongly in this."
During the press conference reporters prefaced their questions with holiday greetings such as "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays." The reporter who raised the question about the DREAM Act greeted the President with a "Feliz Navidad" and the President responded in kind.
In the case of Hector Lopez, the President of the United States has the perfect holiday gift waiting, that is, if he is determined to begin changing the politics of the DREAM Act today.