On April 30, the IM4HI Fútbol Club is entering our first-ever team into California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice’s Just Goals “Soccer Tournament for Liberation.” Our team will be starring immigrants who have survived immigration detention and who have been supported by our organization through the Nueva Esperanza accompaniment program, our immigrant justice advocacy, leadership development, and beloved community.
Thank you for supporting our team!
Come cheer us on! You are also invited to come watch the tournament at the Oakland Roots training facility – 1220 Harbor Bay Parkway in Alameda – from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm on Sunday, April 30, 2023. Parking is limited, so carpooling is encouraged! Wear your IM4HI t-shirt!
Here are some of our soccer players that have survived immigration detention & migration policies:
Khalil is originally from Afghanistan and completed a dentistry degree in India. There he met his wife who is from Mexico and they have a 4-year-old son. As an interfaith (Muslim and Christian) and international family (Afghanistan/Mexico/US), it has been difficult to find a country they can safely call home. While in Mexico, Khalil was violently attacked, and his leg was broken. In 2021, Khalil came to the US and was detained along the border and at a US detention center in Calexico, CA for three months where he witnessed shocking abuse and treatment of immigrants. He finally was granted a $2,000 bond but needed a US sponsor in order to be released. IM4HI was able to help provide an accompaniment team and connections to housing. This tournament will be his first time playing soccer since his injuries in Mexico.
IM4HI Connection: Khalil is a Nueva Esperanza graduate.
Soccer career: As a student in India, Khalil played for his university team.
Gabriela is originally from Guatemala and the mother of three children, ages 7, 8, and 11.
After the extortion threats and the attempted kidnapping of her youngest child, she fled Guatemala with her three children. She began the journey north to join her husband who had migrated earlier and was working and living in the SF Bay Area. The journey through Mexico to the US border with three small children was extremely dangerous. They were robbed and detained for some time in a Mexican immigration detention center (funded by the US). When they finally made it to the US border, Gabriela learned that asylum-seeking families would be rejected and denied at the points of entry through Title 42. But “unaccompanied children” would be accepted. She made the heart-wrenching decision to send her three children across the point of entry on their own. She will never forget having to say good-bye to them at that moment. The children were able to reunite with their father in the Bay Area, and Gabriela spent the next month trying to find a way to get across to the US. She made various attempts and nearly died in the desert, but her life was saved by a team of volunteer rescuers. Today, she is here and reunited with her whole family.
IM4HI connection: Gabriela and her family are Nueva Esperanza graduates.
Soccer career: Gabriela always loved playing soccer and she is raising 3 very talented young soccer stars.
Paulo is from Brazil and had to leave in 2021 to seek protection and safety. He encountered numerous barriers on his journey to the United States including riding on top of the train “La Bestia,” encountering the Mexican police, one month of detention in an immigration detention center in Mexico, and crossing the Rio Grande. He was then detained in Texas. Today he is in the Bay Area working as an electrician and hopes to soon open his own business.
IM4HI connection: Paulo is a Nueva Esperanza graduate.
Soccer career: He is Brazilian! What more to say?
Sergio is from Nicaragua and had to leave his country of origin because of political persecution from the government. After crossing the border between Mexico and the United States, he was forced to wait in Mexico as a result of the “remain in Mexico” (MPP) program initiated by the Trump administration. While waiting in Mexico, he suffered kidnapping and an assassination attempt from which he is still healing from the scars. After eight months surviving along the border, he was sent to a detention center in San Diego, as the COVID pandemic unfolded. He was finally freed with a $10,000 bond after six months in detention. After nearly three years, he recently won asylum and is seeking to bring his wife and two children to the US. Today he works in the Alameda County Social Services department. Read more about Sergio.
IM4HI Connection: Sergio is a Nueva Esperanza graduate and is an advocate and author on immigrants’ rights with IM4HI.
Soccer Career: Sergio did not play much soccer in Nicaragua. Here in the Bay Area, he has developed his talent and plays community soccer every week.
Yesenia is from Guatemala and the mother of three children. Her journey to the US with her teenage son was harrowing. It included being kidnapped and detained in Mexico for a month, crossing the desert without food and water, and being deported back to Mexico twice. She has just completed her first year in the Bay Area which was full of many challenges. She currently works in a restaurant and a bakery in the East Bay. Her oldest child is here in the Bay Area, and the two younger ones are still in Guatemala.
IM4HI Connection: Yesenia is a Nueva Esperanza graduate. Soccer career: Yesenia comes from a soccer-playing family.