IM4HI Vision

Youth Voices Say: Stop ICE Transfers

Change will happen when everyone is aware of the injustice that exists within our immigrant communities and families. We have so much power, more than we even know. We can and will help change this country’s immigration system. We the youth are the future. We must stand together to help keep our families and communities together.

-Hulissa Aguilar, IM4HI Summer Youth Intern 2021

IM4HI walks alongside immigrants as they bravely navigate this country’s inhumane policies and practices. It is particularly challenging for those who have to navigate both systems of incarceration and immigrant detention, and the ongoing collaboration between.  

Children and youth are especially impacted. Not only are they harmed by the prolonged separation from their parents, the years of emotional toil as they navigate the confusing immigration system, and also the uncertainty that this tumultuous journey will never end. Stable environments are critical so that children can learn and grow.  The immigration and incarceration systems in this country do not take into consideration the devastating and traumatic impact on the youth and children of those they detain.

Youth are not passive victims of the immigration system but they are also agents of change.  Youth are stepping up and fighting back to create their own vision for justice and freedom.

With the leadership of our 2021 Summer Youth Intern, Hulissa Aguilar, beginning with her own journey advocating for her father after he was transferred into ICE custody, the youth voice is finally being heard. 

Hulissa Aguilar is joined by other youth outside of Senator Harris’ office calling for an end to family separation, during a foot washing ritual led by IM4HI, April 2018.

Youth are advocating to ensure their beloved fathers, mothers, and loved ones, can come home to their family and community, after earning release from prison and jail:  something that Hulissa’s father Hugo, was not able to experience.  The VISION Act (AB 937) authored by Assembly member Wendy Carillo and co-authored by 25 other State Assembly members and senators, is a bold, visionary policy that is on the brink of passing through the State Senate, and then on to Governor Newsom’s desk.

Add your voice to the voices of youth calling for the passage of the VISION Act and support their actions for freedom and wholeness for their families.

  • Watch and Retweet the Youth Video here.  We need State Senator Portantino, the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, to hear the youth voice who are calling to stop ICE transfers.  

Youth have a stake in the future of our immigration system. They are some of the most harshly impacted and are also one of the most powerful voices for change.

 Together, with us, you can help amplify their voice and witness their journey.  

–Galatea King and Hulissa Aguilar

IM4HI Vision

Our faith values safeguard the human rights of DACA recipients, asylum seekers, and unaccompanied minors

Miriam leading a DACA Prayer Vigil, September 2017

By: Miriam Noriega, IM4HI Program Director

I still believe in my country, even though I have personally experienced discrimination for being undocumented. This week the immigrant and ally community felt a gut punch at the news of the judge stopping new applicants for DACA. The right to work is a human right, and ending DACA during the COVID-19 pandemic denies this right to thousands of people who have been facing economic hardships and excluded from receiving government economic relief. 

I still believe in my country, even though exclusions are a common practice in immigration policy. The most recent exclusion of single adults, as the Biden-Harriss administration discusses, limiting the rescindment of Title 42 to only families. This exclusion denies the human right to ask for asylum at our border and the due process during the application process. The group that we foresee being most affected by this exclusión is the LGBTQ community. They seek asylum because they face constant life-threatening circumstances in their home country.  The second group we are concerned about is Black immigrants who face higher levels of racism throughout their immigration journey, loans for their journey, and deportations rates. It is important that Title 42 is rescinded without any exclusions.

The Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity believes that our country has the resources and the will to create humane and just practices to keep families together, welcome those seeking protection and refuge, and protect and nurture children. Since spring, we have collected letters from people of faith to the Biden-Harriss administration to use their administrative power to rescind Title 42 and join our vision to create more humane policies for all immigrants. The previous presidential administration initiated this policy during the pandemic; rather than controlling the pandemic, it has caused more harm to the immigrant community. As a result, families continue to be separated, and now we are facing a high number of unaccompanied minors. We invite you to listen to the story of one youth that experienced being held in an influx center only to be sent to detention when he turned 18 years old. A report like this reveals that unaccompanied minors held in influx centers, such as the Pomona Fairplex, are harmful to the child’s development. Evidence suggests that children housed in these situations face severe trauma and “will likely suffer acute, sustained, and even permanent impacts to their minds and bodies.” These “emergency influx shelters” are part of decades of policies under Republican and Democratic administrations to criminalize versus humanize migrants. Our country has enough resources to welcome new immigrants with dignity, responsibility, and compassion. Rather than budgeting U.S. tax dollars to detention centers and influx centers, allocate these resources to reform the asylum-seeking process for everyone.

IM4HI Vision Media

My Immigrant Family Separated by Deportation / A Prayer for Hugo


By: Hulissa Aguilar
Prologue by: IM4HI Staff

It is with heavy hearts that we share this prayer for Hugo and uplift the voice of Hulissa Aguilar. Despite tremendous efforts from his family and the local community, we were unable to prevent the deportation of Hugo, a member of the Interfaith Movement family. He leaves behind three children including his 15 year old daughter Hulissa Aguilar. Please read her message written a month before his departure, published in the East Bay Times. (Read below).

Hugo and his family’s story is not new or unordinary in the year 2021. Family separation happens every day at the border and to long-term residents in our communities. These are painful casualties of an unjust immigration system that would rather separate families than increase pathways to safety, inclusion, and citizenship. 

We ask you to pray for Hugo and his family during this time, and to stay committed with us to creating a world without bars and borders where every person is sacred and treated with integrity and compassion.  We will continue to accompany Hulissa who is serving as IM4HI’s youth intern this summer to support other children facing family separation.  

Hulissa’s Message to the Public

Published 5/13/2021 in the East Bay Times

My father will be deported next month. I am 15 years old and am facing the possibility of losing him permanently.

After years of an expensive and stressful legal process, my dad received a final decision on his immigration case. His plea to stay in the United States was denied, meaning he will be required to leave our home and go to Mexico.

He will be forced to leave behind a life he has built here for 25 years. The deportation leaves few to no options for him to ever return.

My father helped build this nation as a carpenter, constructing homes, shopping centers and resorts. He has lived here since he left Mexico when he was 16 years old. While my grandmother, uncles and aunts became citizens or legal permanent residents, my father has been the only one unable to fix his immigration status because of a mistake he made long ago.

In 2005, when he was a young man, he had a drug conviction. He was one of the millions affected by the War on Drugs, which disproportionately incarcerated Black and Latinx people. He spent two years in prison for the offense. If his arrest had occurred today, court programs including drug treatment and mental health care might have been available to him. He might not have gone to prison.

After he finished his two-year sentence, because of his conviction, he was deported under the 1996 Illegal Immigration Act. I was just a baby then. Although he wasn’t supposed to, my father made the decision to come back to the United States to be a part of my life.

Even though my parents divorced when I was young, my dad has always seen me, bought me what I needed and been my biggest advocate. After work, when he is exhausted, he takes me to my soccer games and brings my siblings, ages 3 and 6, and family members to cheer me on. My dad is my biggest fan, and he inspires me. He does whatever he can for those he loves.

In 2017, he came in contact with the police. He was never charged, but that encounter resulted in his direct transfer from Santa Rita jail to immigration custody. He spent 17 months in immigration detention until we were able to get him released.

Current immigration proposals such as President Biden’s U.S. Citizenship Act, which would create a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented residents, would exclude thousands of people like my dad, who made mistakes long ago. We need federal immigration reforms such as the New Way Forward Act, which would reverse the mandatory deportation of immigrants who have served their time and restore judicial discretion.

California needs to pass AB 937, the CA VISION Act (Voiding Inequality and Seeking Inclusion for Our Immigrant Neighbors), which would protect people like my dad, who have served their sentences, from being transferred from jails and prisons directly into custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

My dad made a mistake a long time ago and served his time. He transformed his life and is a valuable person to our wider community. He should not be doubly punished with permanent separation from his family.

I can’t and don’t want to imagine my life without him. Will he be safe? Will he ever be allowed to come back?

Hulissa Aguilar, 15, of San Leandro, is a ninth-grade student at Arroyo High School. She is also a youth leader with the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, a statewide organization working to end the criminalization of people of color in our immigration and incarceration systems.