The dual story of the technical side of the immigration system as carried out in Dallas TX and the harsh consequences it has on families and the work of a community based immigration organization that has no attorney on staff nor is accredited. The documentary explores the work of the Isenberg Center for Immigration Empowerment (ICIE) and how they succeed where others fail.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has little desire to keep families together, as evidenced by their history of aggressive deportation. Perhaps even more egregious is their failure to assist foreign nationals here legally when they have problems. In a case currently being handled by ICIE, the failure by government officials to act has literally destroyed a local family.
The problems for the family began earlier this year when a mother of four, who was here legally on Temporary Protected Status (TPS), had to return to her home country when her mother had a heart attack. She thought her TPS allowed for short trips out of the country, but airline officials failed to notify her that her travel documents would not allow her to return to America. When she tried, her entry was denied, and even different government immigration officials could not agree on whether her travel documents allowed her to reenter. Her return was ultimately denied, leaving four children, all U.S. citizens, without their only parent. They are currently in the care of their godparents.
Complicating matters, since the mother was not allowed to return to the United States, she missed an appointment with ICE officials to renew her TPS, who now refuse to work with her to bring her back to her children.
While the mother suffers in a foreign country, her children have suffered the most. Her six year old, so traumatized by the separation from his mother, has stopped talking completely. The oldest child, 16 years old, has had to drop out of school to help support the family.
A third child, only 12 years old, has had perhaps the hardest struggle. After being constantly teased by schoolmates that her mother was a criminal and an illegal alien, and blaming herself for her mother’s situation, she attempted suicide.
“We just had all four kids in our offices, and they are all completely devastated over the separation from their mother,” ICIE founder Ralph Isenberg said. “This situation should never have happened. This mother should be here in America with her children, but our government isn’t willing to do anything about it. They could very easily resolve this situation.”
Isenberg remains in contact with the mother as they attempt to bring her home, and is ensuring the children receive proper assistance and treatment.
We have some good news on Adam Lieber, a young man ICIE has been assisting. Adam thought he was an American citizen, only to learn as an adult that he was the victim of human trafficking as a baby and is currently facing possible deportation by ICE. While he awaits a decision on his appeal to stay in the only home he has ever known, ICE forced him to wear an ankle monitor, like a common criminal.
Thanks to media attention shining a light on Adam’s plight, ICE decided to remove his ankle monitor this week with no other conditions, while he awaits a decision on his case. Thank you for your support of ICIE, which has made all of this possible.
When he was 23 years old, Dallas-area resident Adam Lieber made a stupid mistake that too many young people make: he drove under the influence and was arrested. However, this mistake changed his life in ways he never imagined.
After he was arrested, Lieber was shocked to learn that the United States did not recognize him as a U.S. citizen, and he was considered an undocumented immigrant. Lieber was adopted from the Philippines when he was 11 months old, and America is the only home he has known. Regardless, the United States government is determined to deport him.
After his arrest, he learned that his adoption was likely a sham. His social security number and birth certificate were both faked. Unfortunately, his adoptive mother has passed away, so he may never learn the full truth about how he came to America. Today, five years after his ordeal began, Lieber is still fighting to stay in America, even though he really shouldn’t have to.
Individuals like Lieber almost always qualify for relief from deportation, as they are victims of human smuggling. However, our government operates on a “deport first” mentality, and according to ICIE founder Ralph Isenberg, ICE offers immigrants no assistance. “ICE rarely recognizes victims of human trafficking,” he says, noting that Dallas ICE has a notorious reputation in their treatment of immigrants. “Dallas is ground zero in the immigration fight,” Isenberg said.
“Adam is absolutely a victim of human trafficking,” Isenberg said. “He qualifies for a T-Visa and a U-Visa (visas for immigrants who are human tracking victims) and he also deserves to have his case reviewed, because like many immigrants, he received ineffective legal assistance from his attorney.”
Complicating matters for Adam is the fact that he initially agreed to leave the country voluntarily upon the advice of an attorney, after government officials ordered him deported. Most immigrants in such situations do this, thinking they are being cooperative and can improve their chances of reentering legally. However, agreeing to voluntary deportation brings with it a ten year ban on applying to reenter the country, something most immigrants are not aware of, and a “catch” that ICE rarely mentions.
“Once you accept voluntary departure, you waive all your rights,” Isenberg said. “But if any government official delays your departure, which happened in Adam’s case, an immigration judge can reopen the case. That’s what we’re focusing on.”
Isenberg believes the fact that Lieber received ineffective assistance from his attorney and has had a change of circumstance since his initial deportation order (namely, he has proof his adoption was faked) makes him eligible for cancellation of his removal from the country or to have an immigration judge adjust his residency status to legal.
“General MacArthur wanted to return to the Philippines, but not Adam,” Isenberg said. “He knows no one there, and has nothing to return to. America is all he’s known. Unfortunately, our State Department has taken a hands-off approach and has done nothing, but the government of the Philippines is investigating his case and may be able to offer assistance.”
Over 25 works of original patriotic art, many one of a kind, are currently on display in and near the Bank Tower at Oak Cliff lobby in Dallas, Texas. The annual exhibit is presented by Ralph Isenberg, founder of the Isenberg Center for Immigration Empowerment and the Bank Tower partner/manager. The exhibit opened to mark the September 11 anniversary, and will remain open until Thanksgiving.
The showcase feature of the exhibit is two works of art that Isenberg proudly points out “contain more actual steel from the World Trade Center in New York City, created by a non-commissioned sculptor, than any other place in the world.” The first piece, known as “The Gates,” stands twenty-three feet tall and is located in the Zang Boulevard Plaza of the Tower. It is complemented by cutout figures of first responders that are used as benches, with a piece of raw metal from the World Trade Center across the top.
The second work is located in the Tower “art park” at the corner of 12th Street and Madison, one block west of the Tower. Both works use about 13 tons of steel from the World Trade Center and were designed by renowned artist Jim Gallucci of North Carolina. Gallucci and Isenberg still hope to collaborate on another sculpture: a 53-foot-tall work containing 17 tons of steel that Isenberg says reminds him of a Marc Chagall-type creation.
Events and art exhibits at the Tower marking September 11 began in 2002 and have continued every year since. Several of the events included community art projects, and have often included at least one school playing a major role in the exhibit. The 2015 exhibit includes the unveiling of four major works of art that Isenberg has acquired in the past year.
The first work is an actual prototype of the Iwo Jima Memorial in Washington, D.C. that was sculptured by Felix de Weldon, created while the battle to capture the island in the Pacific was still underway in 1945. Complementing the De Weldon work are two artifacts of historical importance. One artifact is a wood mold that was used to carve the rifles used on the Iwo Jim Memorial in Washington, D.C., and the other is a chisel used by Felix de Weldon to carve the Iwo Jima Memorial.
The second work is a backdrop to the sculpture created by Dallas artist, Daniel Yanez (Artist DIY). “Creating a seldom seen painting in the shape of a triangle with hanging drapes in red, white and blue; the artist quickly takes us through our history in a most unique expression of art,” Isenberg said.
The third work is a painting done by President John F. Kennedy when he was fifteen years old and lived with his family in New York City. The fourth work of art is a composite panel that came from a McDonald’s in Lower Manhattan that was removed from the restaurant during renovation prior to September 11, 2011. “The panel depicts the McDonald’s logo, the World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, a New York logo, a bridge, a jetliner, and tourists,” Isenberg notes. “All the art combined in the exhibit gives the viewer an opportunity to reflect on our past but celebrate the present and future of the American spirit as well,” Isenberg concludes.
In addition to other major works of art, three sculptors provide pieces representing the biblical concept that “swords can be turned into plow shares” will be proudly displayed. Each sculpture consists of actual weapons and bullets that were surrendered in a gun “buy back” conducted by Reverend Peter Johnson, noted Dallas civil rights leader. Isenberg was given the sculptures because he donated the funds for the buyback. Isenberg feels “that while the guns and bullets themselves are violent, the ultimate message being communicated is that good overcomes evil. The main message of the 2015 exhibit is the vast difference between the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, as captured by AP photographer Joe Rosenthal and the terror attacks on September 11, 2001. “One event had very little media coverage, and the other event was the most covered event in world history, and yet it is clear there are more questions about the most covered event than that which had limited coverage,” Isenberg notes.
The exhibit is open to the public Monday through Saturday. Special tours by Ralph Isenberg, lasting about an hour, can be arranged by calling (214) 943-7697. Admission is free and there is no charge for tours given by Mr. Isenberg.
The Bank Tower of Oak Cliff is located at 400 S. Zang Boulevard, Dallas, TX 75208.
The World Humanitarian Awards are supported by The World Film Council and The Film Reporter, and films from around the world are up for the “Favorite Film” Award. Voting for the award is now open with an online ballot, and submitting a vote will make all the difference!