Families are supposed to be together

Thursday, June 13, 2013

By Jonathan Venegas 

Sign the petition to reunite Jonathan
and his dad: 
This Father's Day will be sad without him here.

When I think about my dad, I think about how nice and helpful and fun he is. He taught me how to play soccer and he plays with me and my brother all the time. The best times with him are making carne asada, making jokes, and just being together. He taught us how to know when to flip the meat, how to make it taste the best and to be really juicy. He laughs all the time and dances really weird, especially when America, our favorite soccer team, scores a goal or wins a game. He’s taught me a lot, and we try to show him that we love him.

But now my dad is in jail. As the oldest, I have to help my mom a lot more than I did before. I do more chores, pay the bills, take out the trash, wash the car, and help my brother and sister with their homework. My brother, Isaac, has been recording every soccer game since my dad’s been in jail, so that we can all watch them together when he gets home.

Last year when we celebrated Father's Day, we played soccer and my dad made carne asada. We got him some clothes and a pair of shoes and spent the whole day together. The clothes were my mom’s idea, because my dad really likes to look good.

This Father’s Day is different. When Sheriff Arpaio raided the place where my dad has worked for ten years, Arpaio arrested my dad and has kept him in jail since February. Before that, every day my dad went to work at a factory where they make sporting goods. He works in shipping and picks up deliveries. He always worked hard and made sure we had food and toys, anything we needed. Sometimes my dad brings me and my brother to work. It’s so fun to help him, and everyone he works with laughs and tells jokes. My dad always teases me and tells me I need to get stronger, and everyone else laughs and asks if he’s going to pay me.

It’s not fair that people get arrested for working. My dad just wanted to take care of me and my family. Now we have to have rallies to try to keep him from being taken away from us. It was really hard the first time I ever talked in public about my dad because there were all these haters yelling bad things. But I knew I had to do whatever it took to get my dad home, and that he would be proud of me for fighting for him.

My dad always says that the most important thing is to study and get good grades. My dad wants me to go to school so that I can have a better life than he did. He wants me to get a job where I use my smarts, like a doctor does. I want to be an astronaut, even though he thinks that's crazy. I think it would be really fun to float around in space. I know that he's proud of me because I do well in school, especially in math and science.

Even though he is in jail, my dad calls us every night to say goodnight. We haven’t gotten to play soccer or make carne asada since he was arrested in February, but we go see him once a week. He tells me to help my mom and asks me how I’m doing in school. It’s so hard visiting him because he is chained up and we are not able to touch him. He still laughs sometimes, which makes me feel good—like he still has some hope even though he’s in such a bad situation.

I want to grow up with my dad and I want him to get out of jail. It’s too hard without him. I guess this year I’m writing this so that we can spend Father's Day together and be a family again.

Families are supposed to be together.

Sign the petition to reunite Jonathan and his dad: bit.ly/dropchargesstopraids

Jonathan Venegas is 15 years old. He lives with his family in Phoenix, Arizona. Jonathan’s dad, Miguel Venegas-Salazar, was one of 23 workers arrested by Sheriff Arpaio in a workplace raid and charged with the maximum crimes possible by Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, setting him up for near-certain deportation. Because of Arizona law, undocumented people charged with felonies are ineligible for bail and are required to be held in jail until their court date. Miguel Venegas-Salazar has pled not guilty and has court alongside other workers fighting their case on July 15th.

This blog post is part of the Strong Families' first Papa's Day celebration. You can read more posts in the series on the Strong Families blog. Strong Families is a national initiative led by Forward Together. Our goal is to change the way people think, act and talk about families.

No comments:

Post a Comment