Isenberg: 'Blessed are the Peace Makers,' Saad is Coming Home

Hector, Ralph, Saad

by Ralph Isenberg
Christmas Day, 2010

The work to free Hector began months ago when he was first deported. Everything about his case made me think of Saad Nabeel. The challenge for me was to figure out a way to merge what was happening to each of these outstanding young men so that in the end both Hector and Saad are home.

The project is now half complete and I want to give special thanks to the Texas Civil Rights Review, Reverend Peter Johnson, the Office of the Chief Council of Homeland Security in Phoenix and the District Office of ICE in Phoenix for going the extra mile.

As I always say in life, “there is right and wrong and then there is the right thing to do”. On this special day I am reminded of the saying “blessed are the peace makers.”

In a faraway land on the other side of the world sits another young man named Saad Nabeel. Saad Nabeel, like Hector Lopez, is as American as you and me. Saad has his own story to tell. In the next few weeks I will begin to tell his story in that it is time for Saad to come home.

Today, I am telling Saad to pack his bags. Saad Nabeel, like Hector Lopez, is coming home. Saad turns twenty on January 21, 2011. It is my intention that he will celebrate his birthday on US soil. The question is whether the system will elect to work with Saad and understand what he has been through and the fear that he lives in.

Saad currently is without a home and has sought temporary safe harbor in yet another country while I work on his case. He is at odds with his parents over religious reasons. Stay tuned for the second chapter of this adventure as it will be as exciting as the first chapter has been. Both chapters will end with “blessed are the peace makers”.

Archive of Hector Lopez Chirstmas Eve Coverage

PORTLAND, Ore. — A former Milwaukie high school student body president who was deported to Mexico was welcomed home Christmas Eve by his family after arriving from a detention facility in Arizona.

The Oregonian reports that Hector Lopez, 20, was embraced by his mother, Sara Flores, and 15-year-old brother, Luis Lopez, as he stepped off a plane at Portland International Airport.

His brother gave him an American flag, and his mother told the newspaper that the turkey she bought for Thanksgiving will be roasted for Christmas dinner. . . .

Hector Lopez Homecoming

View Oregonian story by Anne Saker

Texas Represents! Associated Press dispatch posted at:
Victoria Advocate, Houston Chronicle, Austin American-Statesman,
Forth Worth Star Telegram, Beaumont Enterprise.


Petition to thank ICE for the pre-Christmas release of Hector Lopez

Hector Lopez is Free!

Updated 8pm CST

Hector Lopez has been released from a migrant detention center in Florence, AZ and is scheduled to fly home to Portland on Christmas Eve via Southwest Airlines. That’s the latest word from his mother this evening.

Rev. Peter Johnson of Dallas was able to visit with officials at the offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Phoenix today and make a holiday appeal for the release of Hector Lopez. The release was authorized this morning.

“We owe a tremendous thank you to all the people at ICE who made this release possible,” said Isenberg via telephone from Dallas. “I think we have to recognize that this release would not have happened without their willingness to expedite and give it extra effort, from the hearing officer, to the parole officer, to the checkout officer, to the secretary who processed the release forms.”

Isenberg said he will begin working on the return of Saad Nabeel, a Texas college student who was deported to Asia earlier this year.

“I have not heard Saad so upbeat and happy in months,” said Isenberg.

Will Hector Lopez be Free in Time for Midnight Mass?

Los Angeles IndyMedia / Portland IndyMedia

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.–gm