Immigrant and Asian-American groups took to Foley Square in the blistering heat Monday morning to call on the federal government to return a Flushing father to his family.
Xiu Qing You, 39, has been in a New Jersey detention center since May 23, after he was arrested by ICE agents during an interview for his green card. You’s wife, Yu Mei Chen, 38, who is a U.S. citizen, said her husband has been working to secure legal status for years and has been a hard working father, who paid his taxes and committed no crimes.
The separation has been hardest on their two children, ages 4 and 6, she said at the rally.
“I’ve had so much pressure to deal with,” she said through a translator as she held back tears. “We are so lost.”
You fled China for fear of being persecuted for his Catholic faith in 2000 and applied for asylum but was denied. Even though there was a removal order issued against him in 2000, he remained in the United States and tried to apply for permanent residency. In the meantime, he opened up a nail salon in Connecticut, where Chen worked.
You’s attorney, Yee Ling Poon, said her client submitted his paperwork for his residency application and was given no indication that ICE agents were going to be at his interview. Poon said she is working to get You released from custody while an appeal motion is filed in federal court.
“We are doing everything we can on the legal front to keep Mr. You in this country,” Poon said.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services declined to comment about You’s case. An ICE spokeswoman said You was arrested “based on his final order of removal.”
Jo-Ann Yoo, the executive director of the Asian American Federation, which helped to organize the nearly 100 person rally, said detentions are becoming increasingly common in the city’s Asian immigrant community since the Trump administration began its crackdown on immigration. She called on New Yorkers to speak out and demand an end to the policy.
“These are not New York values and we will not sit silently as our families are torn apart,” she said.
You’s case has drawn the attention of elected officials including City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and U.S. Rep. Grace Meng.
“This case is the latest example of how the administration’s cruel immigration policies are destroying lives,” Meng said in a statement.