The Randeniya children are facing their first Christmas without their father, Saman.
Authorities arrested Saman during a check-in with immigration officials on December 1, who then warned his wife, Namali, that she and her three children, aged 14, 15 and 18, would be deported if they didn't leave the country by January 7. Now, Saman's at the Pearsall Detention Center.
“For my children this [America] is the only home they know. My children do not even call themselves Sri Lankan, the see themselves as Americans," Namali says in a RAICES press release. "This is where they grew up. My oldest is attending NW Vista College and my younger two children are still attending John Marshall High school. My children would be strangers in Sri Lanka, they don’t even speak our language!”
Generations ago, the Randeniya family fled Sri Lanka. They moved to the U.S. in 2005, according to RAICES, a nonprofit that provides legal services to immigrants. .
The children are all DREAMers, according to RAICES, who are eligible for relief under President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which the Supreme Court is taking up after a coalition of states — led by Texas, naturally — sued.
However, they don't want to stay in the U.S. if their parents are going to be deported, according to RAICES, which says the Randeniya family and supporters have more than 1,200 signatures petitioning the Obama administration to let them stay in San Antonio, where they've lived since 2011. Supporters held a rally Monday evening at the family's place of worship, St. Brigids Church.
“This is a case where the positive contributions of this family to the local community far out-weigh the need for them to be deported. The Obama Administration has the power to grant discretion in this case, allowing for the family to remain here in the United States," Ingrid Bergquist, a RAICES staff attorney requesting discretion for the family says." We are hoping the Obama Administration makes the right decision here, and grant parole for the Randeniya family.”
RAICES calls the federal government's move to deport the family alarming because the children are DREAMers — a group the Obama administration has said are no longer a priority for removal.