When Cayla Roberts’ father told her she was worth less than a sack of potatoes as a child, she never expected to one day become a high school and college graduate, an active volunteer in her community and wife surrounded by a new family who loves and respects her as one of their own.
Roberts, who lived in China, was sold by her father at the age of 14 to smugglers that worked in a Chinese cartel and sent to the U.S. to earn money to support her father.
After arriving in the U.S., Roberts said she felt abandoned and alone before being saved by the cops
from the smugglers and finding a foster family.
On Thursday, she stood on the Capitol steps in Lansing surrounded by more than 12 members of her family, husband Seth Roberts at her side and others in support of immigration reform to tell her story, uttering the final words amidst tears — “I would love to be able to call myself an American someday because this is my home.”
Cayla Roberts, a Grand Haven, Mich. resident, now faces deportation back to her threatening father in China, unless action is taken to help families such as the Roberts, she said.
Cayla Roberts was contacted by the Alliance for Immigrant Rights and Reform – Michigan to
participate in the National Day of Action in Lansing to Defend Immigrant Families, where she told her story.
“I’m glad I have been given a chance to share my story,” she said. “The system is broken. I’m blessed to have family here to support me. I feel loved.”
The group visited Detroit before Lansing, and is headed to Grand Rapids next.
This is the first rally Cayla and Seth Roberts and their family have attended, and Seth Roberts said it means the world to the family to be able to come support his wife.
“It means everything,” Seth Roberts said. “I’m so proud of the things she’s overcome and the things she has accomplished.”
Mother-in-law Renee Roberts echoed her son’s emotions about being at the rally.
“She’s our daughter, she’s part of our family,” Renee Roberts said. “Our son is going to do
everything for her and so are we.”
The Obama administration has tried to ensure the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deport criminals rather than families who have integrated themselves into American life.
Lincoln Park, Mich. resident Jorge Garcia attended the rally with his wife, Cindy, who said he faces possible deportation on July 12.
Jorge was sent to the U.S. at the age of 8 by his family without documentation, resulting in a number of problems with the immigration system, including losing his house due to legal bills.
“He is a hard working man who pays his taxes,” Cindy Garcia said to the group rally attendees amidst tears. “We want our story to be told because there are other families that will not step forward because they are scared immigration will pick them up.”
Lansing resident Jerry King was part of the group at the rally who wore shirts reading, “Standing on the side of love.” Today, King is part of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lansing, and said he has attended several rallies supporting immigrants’ rights and said has heard countless stories similar to Cayla Roberts’ and Jorge Garcia’s.
“(We want others to) know that the people being deported are real people,” King said. “They have families and lives, and having them deported will screw it up. I don’t see any good about it.”
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