Madjoma Cisse, now 19, shared her family's deportation story in Washington, D.C., in June 2012.Photo: AFSC/Bryan Vana
May 13, 2013
At the heart of the debate around fair and humane immigration policy are the powerful, personal stories of individuals and families—immigrants of all ages and backgrounds, who have been driven to live their lives in the shadows, fearful that the only alternative to being unseen and unheard is to be demonized, jailed, and deported.
Here is the story of one such person, 19-year-old Madjoma Cisse, the youngest of three sisters, who will graduate from high school next month.
Madjoma was born and has lived her whole life in New Jersey. Some of her favorite childhood memories are going to see the Memorial Day parade with her family and hanging out in the kitchen while her mom cooked lasagna or fufu, a favorite West African dish.
When she was eight, her mom—a PTA parent who worked at the airport and picked up the sisters from school every day—was detained and soon after deported to Ivory Coast. “At the time I didn’t know what immigration was,” Madjoma remembers.
That was 11 years ago, and Madjoma hasn’t seen her mom since.
Like her older sister Kadi, Madjoma got involved with AFSC’s office in Newark after their father came in seeking legal advice. She went to Washington, D.C., last summer to testify about the painful experience of losing her mom and the deep impact the loss has had on her during her teenage years.
She connected with other young people who’ve had similar experiences, and with lawmakers and allies who want to hear her story and are working for policies that would help keep families like hers together.
“We know you guys are supporting us, you guys are fighting with us to stop deportation,” she says. “It feels good…we have a lot of people marching with us.”
As we have for decades, today AFSC is working for U.S. immigration policy that protects the human rights of all people. We partner with immigrant and refugee communities across the U.S. while advocating in Washington, D.C., for humane reform.
As Emma Lazarus said, “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.” So please join us in the march for humane reform:
- Ask the Senate to respect human rights and treat immigrants with dignity
- Read our magazine, Quaker Action. In the latest issue you’ll find powerful stories (including a podcast and videos) of immigrants and allies working for change.
- Support the immigrant rights movement in your area, with the resources provided on our website. Feel free to share our resources in your community or congregation or just use them on your own.