An Iowa pastor who was deported to Honduras earlier this year despite efforts from thousands to keep him in the United States said Thursday it’ll be “difficult” to be separated from his family on Father’s Day. “We were always together, so you can imagine how difficult it will be for me this Father’s Day,” Pastor Max Villatoro said about his wife and four children during a video chat organized by America’s Voice, an organization which advocates for immigration reform.
Villatoro was deported in March after becoming a priority for deportation due to a 1998 drunken driving conviction. Supporters rallied around him and collected more than 25,000 signatures asking for his release, but he was still deported. Villatoro said he feels like a “stranger” in Honduras, a place he left 20 years ago to pursue a better life in the U.S. He hopes he’ll soon get a chance to reunite with his family in Iowa. “I feel like I’m a good citizen and that I deserve a second chance,” he said.
His 15-year-old son, Antonio Villatoro, said life for him and his three younger sisters has “dramatically changed” since their father was deported. They are now going to therapy once a week to deal with the hardships that come from being separated from their father. “It has helped me and my little sisters to express how we feel, not just to our mom but to other people,” he said.