artist credit: Keshy Jeong & Jio Im
Nan-Hui Jo, an undocumented survivor of domestic abuse, was released on bond from immigration detention on Friday, July 17. We celebrate her release and will continue to support Nan-Hui in her fight to be reunited with her daughter. After her release, Nan-Hui enjoyed a celebratory dinner of Korean food with friends, organizers and members of her legal team.
We celebrate Nan-Hui’s release from jail as an incredible, critical victory following nearly one year of incarceration. We know, however, that the struggle is not over. She still needs to rebuild her relationship with her daughter, who hasn’t seen her mother since July 29, 2014. Despite her release from detention, she is still fighting deportation in upcoming immigration hearings. She is still challenging her unjust criminal conviction for child abduction, which resulted from the actions she had taken to protect herself and her child.
Nan-Hui’s release is just one step towards justice in a context of overwhelming personal and institutional violence and trauma: lengthy and undue detainment and forced separation between mother and child; an aggressive and racist prosecution from the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office; and the threat of deportation and permanent separation from her daughter from Immigration and Customs Enforcement in spite of laws meant to provide survivors with immigration relief. It is critical for us to see that these multiple abuses all stemmed from domestic violence: the violence itself, the enormous ignorance surrounding it and the complete failure to recognize and support survivors in their right to self defense and to protect their children. We live in a society where survivors are blamed and judged for staying in abusive relationships, yet, as in Nan-Hui’s case, are also unduly punished when they leave.
We believe that all domestic violence survivors deserve safety, dignity, and freedom, regardless of immigration status or criminal record. Criminalization, incarceration and deportation are not solutions for violence, and usually retraumatize both survivors and their children. Nan-Hui’s story shines a light on how the systems that say they help create safety and justice can instead further abuse, criminalize survivors, and become another mechanism that batterers leverage to control and punish survivors in the long-term. When a survivor’s actions to protect herself and her child are criminalized, we see great violence and injustice. This is particularly true for women of color. The recent cases of Nan-Hui Jo and Marissa Alexander are but two tragic examples of this. We know that most stories like this go unheard.
As Nan-Hui works towards rebuilding her relationship with her daughter, Stand With Nan-Hui hopes to continue supporting her until mother and child are fully free. While we celebrate this moment, we know that there is still so much work to do to change the systems that produced this situation to begin with.
We hope that you will join us in the ongoing struggle to support all domestic violence survivors, particularly those facing criminalization, incarceration and deportation. We were grateful to learn and grow with the organizers of the #DontDeportRosa, Free Marissa Now and #FreeKelly mobilization campaigns. Thank you to all our endorsers, allies, and friends—we know that we would have not gotten this far without your help. We know we are only here today because of all your generous and passionate work.
Stand With Nan-Hui organizers
Artist credit: Keshy Jeong, Jio Im