Asian Americans Stand By Father Detained During Green Card Interview

A father of two was arrested by ICE during a green card interview. Now, several government officials are coming together to fight for his release.

A Chinese man who was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) while trying to secure his status is getting a great deal of support from New York City’s Asian-American community.

Xiu Qing You arrived in the United States in 2000. After applying for asylum because he was Catholic and feared the Chinese government’s persecution, his request was denied. Two years later, immigration authorities issued an order of removal. Within a few years, another request to have his case reopened was dismissed.

In 2015, his wife, Yu Mei Chen, became a naturalized citizen. Therefore, when You applied for a green card, they believed that authorities would honor the fact that they were trying to follow the law. But immigration officials had a very different idea of what constitutes “the law,” striking him with punishment for doing the right thing.

During their green card interview on May 23, agents asked Chen to leave the room. While questioning You about his order of removal, they arrested him right then and there.

Now, he’s being held in a New Jersey detention facility and faces the risk of being deported, even though he has two American children and a nail salon in Connecticut, which he runs with his wife.

On June 18, New York City Council member Margaret Chin, and people representing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and Reps. Grace Meng and Nydia Velazquez joined about 100 others in Manhattan. They all had one goal in mind: to have You released to his family and get ICE to let him reapply for asylum.

“Yesterday was Father’s Day, and Xiu Qing You, a husband and loving father of two young children, spent it at a detention center in New Jersey,” New York State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou said after the event. “Mr. You was trying to do the right thing. He was navigating the system in order to secure his status, and still, he was separated from his wife and children and could be deported back to China at any time.”

New York Immigration Coalition’s Executive Director Steven Choi said in a statement that this incident is just another example of President Donald Trump's administration doing its best to break up families.

“Trump’s deportation machine is not only separating families at the border but in our very backyard -- in our New York. We demand action to keep families together and put an end to this terror once and for all,” his statement read.

Meng also issued a statement, promising the man’s family she is writing to ICE about his detention.

“This case is the latest example of how the administration’s cruel immigration policies are destroying lives. [Xiu Qing You] is a hardworking individual who wants nothing more than to better the life of his family, and have his shot at the American dream,” she wrote. “You has no criminal history and poses no threat to our city or nation. His wife and 4- and 6-year-old children are distraught by his absence and will suffer financial hardships if they are not reunited with him.”

According to Freedom House, Catholics still experience persecution in China. But with the Trump administration separating families at the border who are fleeing persecution as well, it’s not far-fetched to think that the administration may not listen to his family’s pleas.

It’s disgraceful that a nation that prides itself on being a so-called melting pot is putting its most vulnerable members in such a horrific predicament.

These two American children were unable to celebrate Father’s Day because of the current administration’s inhumane immigration policies. And now, their dad could end up being deported to a country he hasn’t called home in nearly 20 years.

Hopefully, pressure from local lawmakers, officials, and the governor will help reunite this struggling family. 

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