Thousands of people around the world have signed petitions calling for the release of a Cal State Fullerton student and her mother, who have been shuffled around detention facilities and were sitting in a Santa Ana Jail cell at last report.
Biology major Regina Husman, who is vice president of the CSUF Undergraduate Biology Club, and her mother Eveline Rahardja, a church and community volunteer, were detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Oct. 28, two days after Regina's 20th birthday.
Tara Tidwell Cullen, associate director of communications for the National Immigrant Justice Center, details their struggle for Change.org.
The mother and daughter sought asylum from Indonesia, where they say they would face religious persecution, but the immigration court rejected their application. Husman and Rahardja have appealed that decision and have received a temporary stay of deportation from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals while they remain in lockup.
"Benjamin Young, Husman's boyfriend of six years, launched the petition to draw attention to Husman and Rahardja's case, hoping the women can reunite with their friends and relatives--including Husman's younger sister, a U.S. citizen--in time for Christmas," writes Cullen, who notes Husman was brought to this country while she was still a minor and has had to withdraw from her classes during the ordeal.
Young's campaign quickly drew attention though Facebook, a campaign website and other forums, with more than 2,700 people sending messages in the first five days to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Assistant Secretary of ICE John Morton, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Cullen reports.
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Her piece goes on to describe the challenges Young, family and friends have faced trying to stay in contact with Husman and Rahardja, who have described hellish conditions behind bars.
"The food was terrible, the facility officers were mean because they don't know your situation and just treat you like criminals," Young reportedly says Husman told him. "Everything is all is extremely traumatic and stressful. She's extremely homesick and sometimes she just wants to give up because being there is just too intense."
Young believes his campaign took off immediately because it's the holiday season and so many know the mother and daughter are good people making positive contributions to their American community. Cullen agrees but notes there are thousands of other similar mothers, daughters, fathers and sons in the exact same predicament--and behind bars.
The petition drive, Cullen concludes, is waking up citizens to "how broken our country's immigration system really is . . ."