On Valentine’s Day, Stand Up For Love. Join One Love Movement to End Deportation!
One of the toughest challenges that the Southeast Asian American community faces is the detention and deportation of Southeast Asian American mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters. Community members with removal orders are being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and they will ultimately be sent back to Cambodia and Vietnam, countries which they once fled in fear of persecution. Laos does not currently have an agreement with the U.S. to take back deportees, but for those families with loved ones who have a removal order hanging over their heads, they know that each day could be their last one together. One Love Movement, started by a group of Philly volunteer organizers who want to educate their community about deportation, recently launched their new website last week. We wanted to find out more, so we caught up with advocate and One Love Movement co-founder, Mia-lia Kiernan.
SEARAC: What is One Love Movement, and how did it get its start?
Mia-lia Kiernan: We are a group of volunteer organizers who are friends and family members of the guys who were taken away in the fall and are still being detained by ICE. We started getting together to put on rallies to get their stories told, to paint a more real picture of who these guys really are, and to work together to get our elected officials aware of the issues related to deportation.
SEARAC: Why do you feel that One Love Movement was needed now?
MK: In Philly, even though deportation was a community concern before, not many Cambodian Americans had been detained all at once before, just a slow trickle. In the fall [of 2010], it just felt like there was this massive roundup of people – people who were really ingrained in the community – and it just sent shockwaves through the community.
(MLK Day Rally in Philly. Photo courtesy of One Love Movement.)
SEARAC: What do you want to tell lawmakers?
MK: Stop separating families, initiate individual hearings for those going through deportation proceedings, and base your decisions on an individual’s personal merit instead of locking everyone up. Narrow the definition of what an aggravated felony is, and exempt refugees from deportation.
Our message to ICE is: "Stop detaining people indefinitely." Some people have been detained up to a year or more away from their families. This hurts communities and leads to instability in families who need that person to be helping out financially. We want ICE to consider alternatives such as supervised release. Indefinite detentions are just not productive for anyone.
We were told that people are being held because they are a threat to society, and because their deportation is imminent. Well, we circulated a petition signed by community members saying that these people are NOT a threat to us – but ICE didn’t even take it into consideration. ICE keeps saying that people are being detained due to their imminent deportations, but what does imminent mean, when people have been locked up for 5 months or more?
(MLK Day Rally in Philly. Photo Courtesy of One Love Movement.)
SEARAC : What are One Love Movement’s plans in the near future?
MK : We’ll be at Asian Arts Initiative’s “Family Style” Open Mic on February 18 in Philly, and a multicultural fair on Saturday. Right now, we’re just building more allies and talking to a lot of people, like connecting with youth organizations. Our goal right now is to try to spread the message that this is a broader issue that connects and affects the whole city. We’re planning more rallies in the spring. We would love for this to be a nation-wide movement eventually, but we are just focusing right now on what we know, and what we know is Philly. We want to educate our city officials so that they will be able to say, "ICE isn’t benefitting our city by locking people up and taking them away from families, neighborhoods and jobs."
SEARAC: How can individuals or organizations support One Love Movement?
MK: Upload your story and add it to our testimonials page. We would love to get testimonials and photos from all over so that advocates can be free to take stories to elected officials and advocate on this issue wherever they are. We want people to know that it's not just in your city, it’s happening all over the country.
We need volunteers for rallies and events. We are 100% volunteer, so we need donations to buy supplies, food, and water for rallies and events.
We are planning on going to DC in the spring to talk to legislators on Capitol Hill, so donations to get us to DC would also help.
And...rally socks are coming soon! People will be able to purchase socks to wear to the rallies to support One Love Movement.
Other ways to stay involved: