I wrote this song hoping to raise awareness about the lives that our policies affect.
From an open mic at The Swiss in Tacoma, I was invited to perform Let Them Stay at an event to raise money and awareness for immigrants, with Indivisible Tacoma. Many of the people at the event recognized at least one of the stories in the song, and were curious about the backgrounds for the other verses. So here are some very brief blurbs about each of the people, with links to more info:
Verse 1: Childhood Arrival
“At four years old, Mwewa Sumbwe was brought here, growing up American carrying a secret from her peers.”
The media likes to tell the stories of immigrants who’ve had huge, dramatic things happen to them, yet many immigrants are simply living ordinary lives. This is one of the points Mwewa Sumbwe made in the articles I read about her. She took a risk by participating in DACA and identifying herself to our government and is one of many waiting to find out what will happen to her.
Verse 2: Why Don’t They Just Come Legally?
“Maribel came here, through the only way she could, trying to get away from gangs that claim her neighborhood.”
Maribel’s family was targeted by a gang, as evidenced by the fact that her brother and father were later kidnapped for ransom. She would have escaped to the US legally, but was unable to because of the wait and the cost. She was discovered in a raid of a food plant, and appealed. Maribel had much support from her church and local community. Despite her important role in her family’s life, and despite her cooperation with ICE, her pleas for asylum were ultimately rejected and she was deported.
Verse 3: Deporting our Adopted
“Adam was adopted, when he was just three years old, living in an orphanage, then given to a young couple.”
He had been legally, officially adopted, into an abusive household. Because Adam’s adopted parents didn’t complete citizenship paperwork for him, he is not a citizen. He tried to complete it himself as an adult but wasn’t allowed to. While he has a criminal history, he has served his sentences and worked to get back on his feet. Still, he was separated from his family and deported to a country overseas that speaks a language he doesn’t know.
While the Child Citizenship Act passed in the year 2000 ensures automatic citizenship for those legally adopted into the US, it’s not retroactive and only applies to those are/were currently 18 or younger. It did not help Adam.