“Don't put me in exile!” says RoxRoy Salmon
by New Sanctuary Movement of New York City
July 7, 2009
New York City--As supporters prayed and sang outside 26 Federal Plaza, Brooklyn father and community leader RoxRoy Salmon was ordered deported following a half-hour court hearing. The order of deportation was inevitable: Because of two decades-old drug convictions for which Salmon had served no jail time, the immigration judge hearing his case had no discretion to consider the impact on his US citizen children in her ruling. At any time, ICE could detain and deport Salmon, separating him from his minor children, infant granddaughter, and wife, who is currently ill. All are US citizens, and depend on him for support.
Dozens of Salmon’s supporters, including religious leaders and their congregants as well as community members from all over New York, waited for over four hours while Mr. Salmon, his children and his attorney attended the hearing. They were accompanied by several leaders from the First Presbyterian Church. Dozens more vigiled outside, many dressed in t-shirts reading “First Presbyterian Church Supports RoxRoy Salmon.” The group kept a prayer vigil, spoke to passersby, and shared in songs and chants from various traditions. As the morning wore on, Jim Reagan from the St. Joseph House Catholic Worker invited the group to use the wait to remember the thousands of immigrants who face waits like this every day, many of them behind bars.
As he exited the building, RoxRoy was visibly shaken but spoke strongly to the gathered crowd. “I'm asking Congressman [Ed] Towns and Senator [Charles] Schumer to please save me and my family and other families that are in the same situation,” he said. “Because we have children — here are my children — we need to stay together. Don't put me in exile!”
Salmon’s attorney, Wanyong Austin, Esq., is seeking “deferred action,” which if accepted, would grant him temporary relief from deportation. After the hearing, Austin went to the office of ICE Field Office Director Chris Shanahan to deliver a 5-inch thick application for deferred action. It included letters from Salmon’s Congressman, Edolphus Towns, who represents the 10th Congressional District of New York in the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as dozens of statements of support from faith leaders, and a petition signed by over 1,200 community members. Salmon qualifies for deferred action consideration as an extraordinary case due to his family responsibilities, his standing in the community and the circumstances of his convictions, which resulted from guilty plea bargains that Salmon agreed to on the advice of his attorney at the time. Only Shanahan has the power to allow Salmon temporary freedom to remain in the US, close to his family, loved ones, and community. Field Office Director Shanahan can be reached at 212-264-2413.
“RoxRoy is really putting his neck out there in this struggle,” said Pastor Michael Ellick of Judson Memorial Church, a founding member of the New Sanctuary Coalition. “He knows full well that he might be risking his own case by taking this public stand. But every day he makes moral choices that look to the broader picture.”
Salmon is especially advocating for the Child Citizen Protection Act (HR182), introduced by Bronx Congressman José Serrano, it would allow immigration judges to take into account the best interests of US citizen children, like Salmon’s, in deportation cases. Two immigrant rights groups, Families for Freedom and the NY New Sanctuary Coalition, are urging Congress to support HR182 immediately, and incorporate issues of judicial discretion into ongoing discussions on comprehensive immigration reform.
To prayerfully reflect and consider further action in support of Salmon, First Presbyterian Church is holding a Vigil and worship service on Wednesday, July 8th at 6:30 PM. Salmon’s supporters will also attend an ongoing vigil being held outside the ICE detention center at 201 Varick Street on Friday, July 10th, 7 PM (at W Houston St, 1 to Houston St, C/E to Spring St, A, B/D/F/V to W 4th St). In addition, First Presbyterian Church will be screening a documentary film about Salmon and his family on July 15th at 7 PM, followed by a discussion with director Zach Fox.
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Update, July 17, 2009
For a troll attack on this press release--along with some responses--go to:
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