Staffer Leaves Hill to Stop Mom’s Deportation

High-profile immigration aide and Dreamer quitting to help mother stay in the country.

National Journal
Ben Terris
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Ben Terris
Dec. 3, 2013, 5:06 p.m.

When they took her moth­er away, Erika An­diola didn’t know what to do. Which was weird, be­cause for years she had been work­ing as an im­mig­ra­tion-re­form act­iv­ist, deal­ing with cases just like this. In fact, that very week she had ac­cep­ted an of­fer to work for Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ar­iz., as an out­reach dir­ect­or be­cause of this very work.

And yet, all An­diola could think about when Im­mig­ra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment burst in­to her house at 9 p.m. and es­cor­ted her moth­er and broth­er away in hand­cuffs was how mad she was.

“See­ing her be­ing hand­cuffed and treated like she wasn’t enough of a hu­man be­ing to be treated with re­spect, I couldn’t take it,” she told me. “My heart and an­ger and sad­ness got in the way of know­ing what to do.”

But not for long. Be­fore the night was over, An­diola reached out to just about every per­son she had met in the move­ment: mem­bers of Con­gress, fel­low act­iv­ists, White House aides. Less than 12 hours later, an ICE of­ficer, feel­ing the pres­sure, ordered the bus that was car­ry­ing her 54-year-old moth­er, Maria Arre­ola, to the bor­der to stop: She could go home.

An­diola couldn’t be­lieve it. It was too good to be true. And, in a sense, it was. Her moth­er was giv­en a one-year re­prieve last Janu­ary. So with Arre­ola due back in court early next year, An­diola is leav­ing her Hill job to fight to keep her moth­er from be­ing taken away again.

“I nev­er want to feel again how I felt that night,” she said.

An­diola came to this coun­try when she was 11. She and her moth­er and broth­er fled from her ab­us­ive fath­er by walk­ing nights through the desert across the Mex­ic­an bor­der. She doesn’t re­mem­ber much from the so­journ but does re­call at one point be­ing sep­ar­ated from her fam­ily. That mo­ment, lost and alone in the vast desert, will be with her forever.

It was a tough ad­just­ment at first, liv­ing in the United States, but in time An­diola thrived. She earned schol­ar­ships to at­tend Ari­zona State Uni­versity, met a group of fel­low un­doc­u­mented stu­dents, and began ad­voc­at­ing for the Dream Act. After col­lege, she began work­ing as a com­munity or­gan­izer, and she met a young mem­ber of the state Le­gis­lature named Kyrsten Sinema. An­diola would be one of Sinema’s first hires when she came to Con­gress earli­er this year, a job An­diola could leg­ally ac­cept after Pres­id­ent Obama’s 2012 ex­ec­ut­ive or­der grant­ing her and oth­er youths de­ferred ac­tion status as eli­gible un­doc­u­mented im­mig­rants.

When she star­ted the job, An­diola had hoped she could play at least a small part in mov­ing le­gis­la­tion. She would tell her story to whomever would listen, but she quickly found that not every­one would.

“The prob­lem is, lead­er­ship in the House just doesn’t seem to want to do any­thing,” she said. “It’s been really tough be­ing on the in­side, see­ing how polit­ic­al games and rhet­or­ic are a lot stronger than policy.”

Here she was, at the U.S. Cap­it­ol, sur­roun­ded by people on both sides of the aisle pro­claim­ing that the im­mig­ra­tion sys­tem is broken — and yet noth­ing was get­ting done about it.

On Tues­day morn­ing, An­diola headed down to the Na­tion­al Mall, where ad­voc­ates such as Rev. Al Sharpton and Labor Sec­ret­ary Thomas Perez shared a stage with a group of men and wo­men who had been fast­ing for as long as 22 days. A slew of House Demo­crats, in­clud­ing House Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi and Whip Steny Hoy­er were there, and Rep. Joe Kennedy even said he had take part in the fast.

The prob­lem, of course, was the ab­sence of Re­pub­lic­an law­makers.

“If the speak­er had come out, I be­lieve that he would have been in­spired,” Rep. Raul Ruiz told me off­stage.

As the fa­tigued fasters shuffled on stage, An­diola had to sneak away to get back to work. She was stopped on her way by Rep. Lu­is Gu­ti­er­rez, the House mem­ber from Illinois and an icon­ic im­mig­ra­tion ad­voc­ate. Even though Con­gress has been a do-noth­ing quag­mire, hav­ing ad­voc­ates like Gu­ti­er­rez around made An­diola struggle migh­tily with her de­cision to leave.

Gu­ti­er­rez em­braced her, and whispered in Span­ish in her ear: “Stay strong. You’re do­ing the right thing.” Tears streamed down her face, and she knew he was right.

What We're Following See More »
ANOTHER NUCLEAR OPTION?
Byrd Rule Could Trip Up Health Legislation
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”

Source:
ONE WEEK
Senate Votes To Fund Government
2 days ago
BREAKING
ON TO SENATE
House Passes Spending Bill
2 days ago
BREAKING

The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.

PRESIDENT CALLS MEDICAID FUNDS A “BAILOUT”
Puerto Rico Another Sticking Point in Budget Talks
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."

Source:
POTENTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN?
Democrats Threaten Spending Bill Over Obamacare
3 days ago
BREAKING

Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login