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Home, Not Heartbreak: A Photography Series

July 19, 2022 News

California is enriched every day by the diversity of experiences, cultures, and traditions that all of us bring to our communities. Californians who are immigrants and refugees are beloved members of our families, neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, places of worship and faith, sports teams, and so much more.

Yet, California’s prison system and some local jails are maintaining a deportation pipeline that cruelly separates thousands of families every year, and double punishes immigrant community members. Instead of being able to go home, Californians who have completed their sentence, been granted parole, had charges dropped, or been granted release by a judge are detained and often deported, usually to countries they have never known.

In the face of these injustices, immigrant communities are at the forefront of a statewide movement to reunite families, help more people build safe and thriving lives, and end the double punishment of fellow Californians. Earlier this summer, Californians from across the state descended on Sacramento urging Governor Newsom to champion the VISION Act (AB 937) that would end this inhumane practice once and for all.

Community members hold up signs that read "keep families together" while they stand on a lawn in front of the CA state capitol.

Community members rally at the Sacramento State Capitol for the VISION Act, a bill that would put an end to prison-to-ICE transfers in CA. (Joyce Xi)

The landmark racial and immigrant justice bill has passed the Assembly and two Senate committees, and awaits a vote by the full Senate.

ACTION: Call Gov. Newsom and urge him to pass the VISION Act, which would put an end to prison-to-ICE transfers once and for all.

Over the past few months, in partnership with Survival Media Agency photographers and documentarians, we’ve had the chance to spend time with Californians who have been affected directly by the state’s prison-to-ICE pipeline.

Some folks have been among the lucky few who have been able to get out of ICE detention, usually as a result of tireless community and legal advocacy. They are living beautiful, full lives that are possible because they are home. Others are continuing to advocate for their family members to come home and build lives like that too.

While they are a small example of the thousands of California families, parents, students, domestic violence survivors, and residents who are harmed by ICE transfers each year, these community members are sharing their stories to encourage California to live up to its best values of equality and inclusion, especially in a state where about half of all children have an immigrant parent. What does it look like when we embrace our full diversity and support families and communities to be safer and together?

Each Tuesday and Friday for the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing stories here that make clear the safety and community strength that’s possible when people can come home to their loved ones.
You can also follow #VISIONAct and #HomeNotHeartbreak on Twitter and Instagram to read and share the latest stories, and call on Gov. Newsom to support the VISION Act and reunite these and so many other families and communities.