WASHINGTON, DC – After fighting alongside partners and allies for the past two weeks to keep Iowa Mennonite Pastor Max Villatoro with his family and congregation, the Rev. John L. McCullough released the following statement upon learning of his deportation:
Today our nation lost a leader and man who brought so much light to our communities. Sadly this tragedy was entirely avoidable. It is unconscionable to think that a community leader, pastor and father like Pastor Max could be deported – and now faces great risk to his life.
Pastor Max’s case presented a clear test for the effectiveness of prosecutorial discretion. The positive equities of an individual’s case must always be weighed against any past mistakes. Our faith teaches us that we are called to forgive and our communities are to be places of redemption and wholeness.
Pastor Max is the first to admit that he made a mistake over 15 years ago, and now ICE has the same opportunity to admit it was wrong and make amends. The Department of Homeland Security should immediately grant Pastor Max Villatoro humanitarian parole and allow him to return to his family and congregation in the US.
And if ICE Director Sarah Saldaña thinks that deporting pastors and community leaders is sound public policy, then President Obama needs to appoint an ICE Director who will actually enact his immigration priorities. The faith community will stand for nothing less.