January 2018 Issue - page 11

EAST COAST EQUESTRIAN
January 2018
Page 11
By Suzanne Bush
While most Americans
were getting ready to celebrate
Thanksgiving, a Honduran
immigrant named Francisco was
among many arrested by Immi-
gration and Customs Enforce-
ment (ICE) and threatened with
deportation.
“He’s a very good guy, a
very honest guy and just did right
by everyone,” Jessica Forliano
says. “He said he never had a
criminal record here, never had a
criminal record in Honduras.”
Forliano operates Forliano
Farm, a training and boarding
facility in New Hope, PA, where
Francisco had worked for about
four years. “He is a very reliable,
really hard-working guy. It’s just
a shame,” she says. “They’re
trying to make a living like ev-
eryone else.”
Francisco was headed for
work in November when he was
stopped by three ICE agents, she
explained. “They released him
the next day and he had an ankle
bracelet and an ID bracelet and
all these other things.” At first
Francisco had an attorney. “He
was going through all the legal
steps and they had said to him,
from what I gather, the legal pro-
cess is quite expensive and quite
lengthy.”
The ankle bracelet needed
to be charged frequently and
Francisco had to wake up during
Bucks County Farm Loses Cherished Worker to Deportation
the night to recharge it. The stress
of the deportation threat, the con-
stant worry about the ankle brace-
let and legal fees led Francisco
to basically give up, she said.
“He felt his life was so invaded,”
she says sadly, “he more or less
just said ‘all right, I give up.’” In
early December he was sent back
to Honduras.
She said it was terribly
emotional for everyone when
Francisco was deported. “When
he called me, I actually started
crying, because it was so sad
to see a guy like him not being
able to help his family make it. I
couldn’t even say goodbye.” She
says people don’t realize these
things happen, “until it happens
to you.”
Francisco’s story has sent
tremors through the immigrant
community. “There are several
people that are terrified. The
horse community as you know is
a very close community. The His-
panic community is very close.
I know a couple of guys that are
terrified, because they don’t know
if they’re next.”
Ironically, the ICE agents
who arrested Francisco were not
even looking for him. “He said
apparently they were looking for
someone else and he happened
to pull out and they thought ‘let’s
take you anyway and see what we
find,’ and there you go. Bad tim-
ing on his part, but also a shame
because his story is a product of
our environment at the moment.”
“Founded on Immigration”
Forliano says that it’s par-
ticularly sad that hard-working
immigrants like Francisco are
treated as criminals. “Of course,
our whole country was founded
on immigration. That’s how we
all came here.” She says that
people need to recognize that,
and that we also need to take
a sober, pragmatic look at our
country’s immigration system.
“The system needs an over-
haul, because there are so many
people in this country—legal or
illegal—who work very hard to
make our country what it is. If
we ship all those people home,
it would hit us very hard—not
just the horse business, but the
restaurant business, the land-
scaping business, many busi-
(Continued on page 22)
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