The Battle to Save a Friend from Deportation and Death
Publication Date: July 2011
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What is it like to be a young mother threatened with deportation to the country whose government has imprisoned you and whose soldiers have raped and tortured you? You don’t want to leave your children behind, but how can you take them with you, knowing that your homeland, ruled by chaos and violence, is notorious for murdering failed asylum seekers?
Regina Bakala found herself in just this situation ten years after escaping the Congo and settling in the United States. Upon arrival, Regina had worked with an immigration lawyer, then joyfully reunited with her husband, also a Congolese torture survivor, and had two children. Life was challenging but full of hope until the night there was a knock at the door and immigration agents burst in. They forced Regina from her home as her family watched, then locked her in prison to await deportation to certain death.
In Rescuing Regina, author Josephe Marie Flynn tells Regina’s powerful storyand how her husband, a pit-bull lawyer, a group of volunteers, and a feisty nun set aside political differences to galvanize a movement to save her. Revealing what she uncovered about US immigration policies and the dangers faced by those escaping war crimes, Flynn exposes an America most never see: a vast underbelly of injustice, a harsh detention and deportation system, and a frighteningly arbitrary asylum process. In their battle for justice, Regina and Josephe not only confronted dangerous obstacles but also reawakened emotions and traumas from the past. A compelling story of a quest for justice, Rescuing Regina is also a tale of friendship, faith, hope, and the transformative journey of two friends.
Leader of the Save Regina Campaign, Sister Josephe Marie Flynn is cofounder and chair of the Milwaukee Archdiocesan Justice for Immigrants Committee and a member of the Global Justice and Peace Commission of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. A retired teacher, she lives in Milwaukee, where she is a spiritual director and an advocate for immigration reform. Sister Helen Prejean is the author of Dead Man Walking. A sister of the Congregation of St. Joseph, she counsels death row inmates and families of murder victims.
"This may be the rare book that the staunchest progressive and the most devout Catholic could read together. Arresting and inspiringa must-read for people of faith, immigration activists and anyone concerned with social justice." Kirkus Reviews
"Flynn's eye-opening and detailed account of what it took to win asylum for Regina Bakala . . . offers an inside look at the formidable and convoluted system faced by asylum seekers in the U.S." Publishers Weekly
[Sister Josephe] unfolds Regina’s story and her own story of friendship and faith within the broader context of the desperate need for immigration reform.”
A story about inner strength, community power, and healing through selfless bravery. Sister Josephe . . . leaves her readers with outrage, courage, and the dignity to dig deep, take risks, and fight for human rights.” Sarnata Reynolds, Advocacy and Policy Director, Refugee and Migrants’ Rights, Amnesty International USA
Rescuing Regina is moving, informative, and clearly written. It makes the complex US immigration system understandable. The Bakalas’ story is the story of so many others in our country, and it brought me to tears. Sister Josephe inspires us to fight the impossible fight. She makes us realize that a community fighting for justice can and does make a huge difference. By saving one family, she and the Save Regina team provide a model for us all.” Anna Marie Gallagher, immigration attorney, Maggio + Kattar, and President, International Detention Coalition