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Calvin Prison Initiative student faces deportation

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Calvin Prison Initiative student faces deportation

Photo courtesy of Berenice Albright

Photo courtesy of Berenice Albright

Photo courtesy of Berenice Albright

Photo courtesy of Berenice Albright

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In 1993, 22-year-old Rafael DeJesus was sentenced to 60-100 years in prison for a first-time non-violent drug offense. DeJesus is a student enrolled in the Calvin Prison Initiative program working toward an associate degree in ministry leadership. After serving over 25 years in prison, he received commutation by former Governor Rick Snyder. On Tuesday, Feb. 12, instead of being released to his sister, Berenice Albright, and her family, DeJesus was picked up by ICE and taken to an immigration detention center. He is currently facing deportation.

“One of the kindest, sweetest and most appreciative people I know” are the words long-time Calvin professor Lee Hardy used to describe DeJesus. Hardy taught DeJesus in his PHIL-153 Introduction to Philosophy class.

Born in the Dominican Republic in 1969, Rafael DeJesus grew up with a dream of playing baseball in hopes of making it professionally. Unfortunately, an arm injury ended his Major League Baseball dreams. His sister expressed that, as a kid, he was known for his love of baseball.

While in prison, DeJesus has been an active member in the community by assisting in conflict-resolution within the prison, knitting hats for children with cancer, training dogs as service animals for the visually impaired community, and becoming a carpenter. His carpentry has contributed to building projects for Habitat for Humanity. In addition, as he is fluent in both English and Spanish, DeJesus has served as a translator for other inmates who do not speak English.

Hardy added, “[Rafael] was a good and conscientious student… like many of his fellow inmates, he taught me much about the power of Christian gospel to change lives and deliver a sense of hope and mission in an environment that would drive most people to despair.”

DeJesus’ sister has been his advocate during his time in prison. She has expressed disappointment in the justice system over her brother’s sentencing because he was a first-time nonviolent offender who, in his time in prison, “paid his dues.” Albright shared that by telling this story with the Calvin community, she hopes “students will call or write to Governor Whitmer asking her to grant Rafael pardon so that he can stay in this country with his family, friends and community of faith.”

Albright stressed that in a country of opportunity and second chances, she feels that her brother deserves a second chance at redemption to continue his studies as a man of faith. If DeJesus is deported, “[he] is being sent to a place where he would be homeless and has no family. His life, family and community are here.”

DeJesus’ parents have both passed away. His mother continually fought for her son in her life and now Albright continues the fight for her brother’s freedom.

DeJesus intended to enroll at Calvin upon his release prior to being detained by ICE, to continue his education in an offer that was extended through the CPI. Albright continues to fight for her brother and seek justice for DeJesus. She expressed that she is “grateful that Calvin College gave Rafael an opportunity in life.”

Stay tuned as Chimes follows this developing story.


75 Responses to “Calvin Prison Initiative student faces deportation”

  1. Kathryn Sontag on February 22nd, 2019 12:04 pm

    I will do what can to help this young man stay in this country where he has support to continue his life in Christ will be praying continually and hope he can continue in the path the Lord has chosen for him

  2. Annette Espinoza on February 22nd, 2019 1:54 pm

    Students interested in supporting Rafael and his family can call or write to Governor Whitmer Mail:
    Governor Gretchen Whitmer
    P.O. Box 30013
    Lansing, Michigan 48909


  3. Christy on February 23rd, 2019 1:59 pm

    What is the back story on his detainment?

  4. Berenice Albright on February 25th, 2019 8:40 am

    There is no background story. Regardless of a harsh sentence imposed to Rafael, his consistency being a model prisoner more than two decades, a full rehabilitation as a human being, family and community support, his amazing contribution to various community inside and outside the prison; immigration laws is a one size fits all sistem.
    Just like Quimo therapy( it does not recognize good cells from bad cells);
    Cases like this, demonstrate that there is a need of immigration laws reform in the country.

    Rafael is awaiting for deportation like any other person who has finished his sentence. The process takes up to 3 months or so under horrible humans conditions. No a book or bible to read, with very limited communication.
    Thanks for inquiring.
    If you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me directly at [email protected]

    Thank you so much,

    Berenice Albright

  5. Yocasta Escoto Santos on February 26th, 2019 6:09 pm

    I am very proud of him and the good man who he has become. Rafael, thank you for your contributuions to society and those in need.

  6. Anon on February 27th, 2019 1:41 pm

    People probably won’t like this but I’m gonna make the case that he should be deported. Let me preface this by saying I don’t doubt what people are saying about him. I am sure he has been rehabilitated and is a nice guy and I don’t think he would reoffend. However, why should he get citizenship instead of someone who is currently here illegally that didn’t traffic cocaine? Or worse, someone who has been waiting 10 years for citizenship in their home country legally? It just sounds unfair to me.

  7. Michelle Batista on March 1st, 2019 10:46 pm

    He is a great man. He got a very harsh punishment for a first time non-violent offense. He was 23 years old. He is a model student for rehabilitation, and a model human being in general. He is very inspiring. He is someone myself and many others look up to. He wants to help people especially the troubled youth and guide on the path of knowledge. All his family is here in America. He should stay in America and be surrounded by his family and friends who loves him very much, and are so grateful that he is out of prison finally. May he live the rest of his life with people who support and care for him. Please please do not deport him. I LOVE HIM SO MUCH. HE IS MY BIG COUSIN AND I HAVE MISSED HIM. MY WHOLE FAMILY HAS. My home welcomes him with open arms! Thank you for listening.

  8. Nick Amoriello on March 1st, 2019 11:13 pm

    I know the family of this man and he is very loved and respected. He shouldn’t be deported from this country. This man is loved by many family and friends and deserves a second chance. Trump even recently announced in his state of the union address about prison reform. CNN states that Trumps current goal is to “shorten mandatory minimum sentences, including reverting life imprisonment to a 25-year minimum for those convicted under the “three strikes” provision; and expand the “drug safety valve” to reduce the number of nonviolent drug offenders receiving mandatory minimum sentences.” This man committed a nonviolent drug offense. Why is he being penalized as otherwise. Please take a second look and grant him a second chance. He deserves it.

  9. Nestir on March 1st, 2019 11:18 pm

    He deserves to stay with his family. Everyone deserves a second chance at a better life.

  10. Ashley on March 2nd, 2019 8:48 am

    It saddens me to learn that Andres is being held by ICE and could potentially face deportation after being released. Andres came here legally and was a legal resident so why is he facing deportation? Andres is not only a role model to rehabilitation but has served as a role model to his inmates and family. Andres’s drive and determination to help and challenge others to do their very best speaks volume about the type of person he really is. You see, Andres received an unfair sentence for a non-violent crime when he was 23 years old. Although, he made an irresponsible decision that will forever impact him, I still believe he deserves the right to receive a second chance. Releasing an individual to no family or support system will be an irresponsible unfair decision Governor Whitmer. Andres’s family were all prepared to welcome him with open arms and that opportunity is being stolen from them.

    In my opinion, Andres has proven himself and in return he is being robbed from the opportunities that he very much earned while being incarcerated. It makes me sick to my stomach to witness how the system has failed Andres and his family again and again. After spending over 25 years in prision, his family was prepared to welcome him home only to find out he was being detained and shipped to a foreign country where he has no one. Come on America, we can do better. Gov Whitmer, I ask that you try to put yourself in Andres’s shoes before you make your final decision. I have faith that you will make the right decision Gov Whitmer. Make us proud!

  11. Amanda on March 2nd, 2019 1:43 pm

    I am a friend of this gentleman’s cousin. As far as my research goes and hearing the kind words Michelle has spoken of him, this man does not deserve to be deported. He came here legally, why should he loose his citizenship?? He is an exeplarary example of making the best out of a terrible situation. His actions display the characteristics of a great American citizen and his mental health is above most. This guy will change America for the better with his generous actions. Please let this man stay a legal citizen.

  12. Raymond on March 2nd, 2019 3:28 pm

    After hearing the news about Rafael’s sentence commutation, I was excited to see that WE, as a country, are heading in the right direction towards prison reform. But then I read this… the deportation of a role model who served 25 years for a FIRST-TIME non-violent drug offense. He is potentially being deported to a country that he has not been to in over two decades and a country where he no longer has any family. Not only did he spend the majority of his life in the United States, but he also came here LEGALLY and is a LEGAL RESIDENT. While in prison he proved that he will be a good member of our society by being involved in the community, he even worked towards his associates degree and only needs a few credits to graduate. Prison rehabilitation is about helping former inmates get acclimated into our society, not ignoring them and shipping them off to another country as if they’re some sort of useless animal.

    We’re in a time now where our country is more divided than ever. However, one of the few issues that both ends of the political spectrum has agreed on is CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM. Former model prisoners can bring enormous beneficial impacts to our society. For one, they tend to be more determined, committed, and loyal to their employer compared to your average Joe. For two, they bring diversity and different sets of opinions to the workplace. As President Donald Trump said, “the people that are hiring prisoners – and you’ve heard me say it – they’re LOVING them.”

    Governor Whitmer, I understand that during your campaign and career as a prosecutor, one of your priorities was rehabilitation for first-time, non-violent drug offenders. You, yourself have been a huge advocate and I beg you to assess this case and give a well-deserved second chance to a model human being that will have an enormous beneficial impact to our society! I trust that you will make the MORALLY RIGHT DECISION.

  13. Cesarina Batista on March 2nd, 2019 9:53 pm

    I would like to request one more chance for my friend.
    I’ve know DeJesus for several years. He has been a close friend. I know De Jesus to be dependable, responsible, honest courteous.
    My friend has come across as an efficient, hardworking and realiable person who can be an asset that contribute to this nation.

    Please, please, please, please
    De Jesus deserves a second chance.

  14. Anna on March 2nd, 2019 10:18 pm

    I hope we do the right thing by this man who has already suffered the injustices of a racist, bigoted and unfair system. Let’s not make the same mistake twice.

  15. Evelyn on March 3rd, 2019 3:07 am

    Mr. DeJesus deserves a chance to contribute to the United States as a resident and possibly as a citizen in the future. Deportation is not the answer for a man that has demonstrated disclipline and patience while serving in an American Justice facility. His family is supportive, educated, and successful in the US; they have been and will continue to be active in Mr. DeJesus’ life. He also has the support of a professor of a college, which enlightens us all of the man he is now. Mr. Dejesus will surely continue to grow as a man of good deed once he is given the opportunity. He has served a prolonged time for his wrong doing a young adult, he shall serve this country as a free man. Good luck Mr.DeJesus and family. Prayers for you all.

  16. Yanet Guzman on March 7th, 2019 10:38 pm

    Rafael inspires me to be a better person. I’m amazed with his peace and perseverance. After spending more than half of his life in prison for a non-violent drug offense, he has demonstrated with his exceptional conduct and
    amazing kindness towards his inmates the kind of human being that he is.
    Mr. Governor Witner, Rafael’s family and friends humbly ask you to give Rafael a second chance. Rafael’s family and friends reside in the United States. We are very excited waiting for him with arms open to give him all the support that he needs to be reintegrated in society.

    Please do not deport Rafael De Jesus.

    I can be reached via email or at my cell phone number 201-580-7351.

    Kind Regards,
    Yanet Guzman

  17. Michael Bennett on March 9th, 2019 7:44 am

    This is an opportunity for a man who has developed himself as a contributor to others to be allowed to continue to contribute and make a difference. I hope that Rafael DeJesus is allowed to stay in the US with his family. He has earned his opportunity and is demonstrating his rehabilitation.

  18. Jessie Fahay on March 9th, 2019 8:12 am

    I am advocating for his pardon.

  19. Olivia Richman on March 9th, 2019 8:25 am

    Everyone deserves a second chance, especially someone who has demonstrated the behavior of Mr. DeJesus. His family is incredibly loving and supportive and has gone above and beyond for his stay. Someone like Mr. DeJesus doesn’t need to be deported; that’s not the “only” solution here and if the authorities think it is, we need to problem solve and put our heads together to create a win-win solution.

  20. LAN LAN on March 9th, 2019 8:27 am

    This man is loved by many family and friends because who he really is. I stand for his greatness and what is possible for him to contribute in to this world. I request to give him a chance to be with his family after so many years in prison, and give him a chance to contribute to this country.

  21. Luba Pevnik on March 9th, 2019 9:34 am

    America is a country of second chances!
    Rafael is a an amazing contribution to our society in so many areas specially being a dog trainer for the blind.
    He has demonstrated remorse and has paid his debt to society.
    Now, it’s time to support him build his life in the USA where his family, faith community and friends reside.
    Sending him to a country he does not have home, or family support is not the answer, this is like adding another cruel sentence to some one who has spent more than half of his life incarcerated as a first time nonviolent offend.

    I request that Governor Whitmer, stands by justice and Grand Rafael DeJesus a pardon then he can stay in this great nation of second chances!
    God bless us all!

  22. Richard Miller on March 9th, 2019 9:38 am

    I completely support his release. I know his sister and have unreserved confidence in the contribution he already is and who he will be for our community once he is released.

  23. Monique Mello on March 9th, 2019 9:40 am

    I admire Rafael’s courage for enduring a very long sentence for a minor offense. As the record shows this a man of character and dignity that is well prepared to be reintegrated in society with the support of family and friends that loves him dearly. Mr Governor Witner, please have mercy on him and pardon his past faults. This is the land of opportunities and Rafael deserves a second chance to contribute to society. Thank you. I’m sure you will be merciful.

  24. Sophia on March 9th, 2019 1:25 pm

    So many people were ecstatic to hear that Rafael was released, it is terrible to hear that he is being deported. He deserves to be with family, friends, and community. I wish the system was different, and hope something good can be done to keep Rafael with us!!

  25. Marie Charlot on March 9th, 2019 3:00 pm

    Rafael De Jesus deserve a second chance.
    Pl3ase do not deport. He already paid 25 years in jail.
    Give him a chance .

  26. Susie Abadi on March 9th, 2019 3:13 pm

    I’m a very close friend of Raphael’s sister.
    May this country do the right thing and allow him to stay in the U.S. Raphael
    has been through enough. His sister is an inspiration driving 26 hours several times a month to fight for his rights, Please end the family’s suffering. Raphael has proven himself to be a valued asset.

  27. Brian on March 9th, 2019 4:59 pm

    Release this Man, a Good Man, to the Home and Family that is HERE, in America.
    He has served his time, and is a Man of Service.
    Please Serve him, and allow him to Serve ALL of us!
    Please Governor, this tide can turn with one action by You!!

  28. Stacy on March 9th, 2019 6:11 pm

    Rafael has spent more than half his life in prison for a 1st time non-violent offense. I am in aww when I hear his accomplishments while in prison, his humbleness, and the positive impact he has had in prison and in a community he has been denied off for 26 yrs. Rafael should be able to remain in the US and continue making a positive impact while being supported by his family, school, etc.

    The positive impact that Rafael is able to create as a free man with support is endless. He deserves a 2nd chance in this new chapter in his life! Do not deport Rafael De Jesus!!

  29. Julys on March 9th, 2019 11:34 pm

    Andres recognized that he made a mistake, and he has paid for it with more than half of his life in prison, away from his family, away from freedom. Andres told me, that he made to himself a promise of becoming a better man to make his parents proud of him. He compiled his promises, he had made all that is possible to become a better man useful to society, a man of faith that honors God for helping him to go through all this process. Andres is not only a good man, but he is also an admirable person that had used the hard and inexplicable consequences of his past action as a base to rebuild a new lifestyle smiling and keeping himself strong to support other and be role model of faith and hope.
    The society needs a second chance by keeping Andres in this country where he can share his experience, his art, his wisdom, his humanity, and show to the society that he had changed for good and that people can change as well.

  30. Priti Saldanha on March 10th, 2019 8:26 am

    He will be a wonderful asset to America…His journey can be inspiration to many a youngster that went his route. I do hope he gets to stay!

  31. Rabin Puran on March 10th, 2019 9:37 am

    I am very good friend of Bernice Albright. This man had served his time and he should be released to his family. Please have compassion and released this man to his family

  32. Yasmine on March 10th, 2019 10:44 am

    I don’t see why someone would face 100 years and then deportation for a first time offense. He is definitely not the first young man to make a mistake but we want to send him back to a country he has been out of for at least 20 years and has no resources in? This makes no sense. He contributed to this society and should have the chance to experience it.

  33. Ben Strothmann on March 10th, 2019 12:52 pm

    Rafael has proven himself a better citizen than most US Americans! This is why America was created! So that people of the world LIKE RAFAEL would have a place to come to follow their dream!

    Serving 60-100 for a non violent first time drug charge is just WRONG! We have stolen 25 years of not only this man’s life, but we’ve stolen that time from his family, and from society we have stolen whatever this man may have contributed to the world.


    As a member of society, I do not live in fear that someone out there might turn to using or selling drugs. That isn’t a real threat.

    But the thought that there is a rogue, u official, UNCONSTITUTIONAL entity out there called ICE, an entity that was only RECENTLY formed AGAINST the will of the people, and that they are indiscriminately rounding up American citizens and deporting them to countries where they don’t belong…..


    THAT is a very REAL danger to society as a whole. Not only For it’s own sake, but for the instability it creates, and the very real possibility of retribution we now face from future foreign generations who will resent our country — and rightly so!

    SET RAFAEL FREE!!!!!!!!

  34. Patricia G. on March 10th, 2019 1:38 pm

    Rafael has done more than his time. He’s answered his calling, …and releasing him into the U.S. community can only spread positivity among all of us.

  35. Megan m on March 10th, 2019 1:56 pm

    I hope governer Whitmer will step in so that another person doesn’t have to face deportation and be separated from family.

  36. Naida on March 10th, 2019 5:00 pm

    More than 20 years ago, Rafael was given a harsh sentence and chose to honor the time spent away from his loved ones, being the most extraordinary version of a human being!

    He has been of contribution to children, cancer patients, the visually impaired….and so many more. He has contributed to is in ways so many of us haven’t in our lifetime.

    Rafael is a shinning star and an inspiration as he actually represents what it looks like to be an extraordinary contribution.

    Rafael s place is here. Where he has and will go on creating magic.

  37. Mikhail Furman on March 10th, 2019 8:07 pm

    I’m sorry that Rafael was ever even detained for such a victimless drug “crime”. I hope that he’s set free by this bullshit ICE ASAP, so that he may freely pursue his life as he chooses.

  38. Marge on March 10th, 2019 9:15 pm

    I am making a powerful request, as a friend of Rafael’s sister, that Rafael not be deported. He has more than done his time and it would serve no purpose to have him deported. He has a much greater purpose to give back to this country in his service to his family and society. His sister and family have been through enough. Please put an end to their suffering. Raphael has proven himself to be a human being in service of others. Please give him that opportunity right here in the US.
    Thank you.

  39. Erica Chahade on March 10th, 2019 9:43 pm

    Rafael is an incredible soul, making a big difference in his life and everyone around him He had paid is dues more than enough to society.
    Although his circumstances could have made him angry, he choose to go back to school, educated himself, he is a great artist and trained dog for the blind.
    During this he lost his dearly mom and now he only have a sister that lives in USA, it is more than fair to leave him here, to be able to have a family support after the injustice cause to him. Please allow this family and him to be happy and have his dignity back again. He is definately going to make a difference in our society.
    Him and his family deserves.

  40. Paulo W Mori on March 10th, 2019 9:54 pm

    Rafael, needs to stay in USA, it would be another cruelty sending him back to D.R. where he doesn’t have any family and his only sister leaves here.
    Hi is an amazing artist that even had a successful art exposition, sharing through his art, love, pain, faith, disparate and hope.
    Please keep Rafael among us, we need good like him around.

  41. Dalva Bordini on March 10th, 2019 10:04 pm

    FREE Rafael !!!!

    He deserves to be with his sister and in the country that he knows and grew.
    After all the injusticed cause to him and family, keeping him away for 25 years because of an incredible small charge, because of abuse of power and discrimination,
    He was not able to say goodbye to his mother and hold her hand while she was going through chemotherapy and eventually passed from it. He couldn’t see his sister get married, enjoy birthdays, holidays and faith.

    Please KEEP Rafael with us.

  42. Cesar Bordini on March 10th, 2019 10:09 pm

    Rafael must stay!!!

    We need people like him bringing hope, faith, love and his art will definately make our country special. Besides he train dogs for the blinds, imagine how much he can contribute, everything that he does requires love, patience and creativity.
    His family is waiting for this moment for the past 25 years, please bring justice to this case.

    This family deserves.

  43. Sarah Harrigan on March 11th, 2019 7:33 am

    Humanity is experiencing each individual on a case by case basis.

    Rafael has proved that he is wanted & needed in society by his dedication to learning new skills and using them to give back to his community. In reality we need more people like him; people who realize that contribution make the world go round.

    Rafael, I am in full support of your release and I’m looking forward to what you will create for the world!

  44. Neda Meier on March 11th, 2019 10:20 am

    I support releasing him to the US so he can be with his family. He has done his time.

  45. Jacqueline A Huie on March 11th, 2019 12:36 pm

    Rafael was a first time offender who received an excessively harsh sentence and he has paid for his mistake multiple times over. Let’s face it had he been white there would have been concerns about ruining a young promising life and he would have been given multiple opportunities and chances to return to society, reintegrate and become a contributing member.

    Now that Rafael is released and has the support of the community and his family he’s suffering further injustice because of his immigration status. I used to ask the question, why are we, black people so hated in America? But as I got older I realized that was irrelevant. What’s important is we deserve to be treated the same, not worse and not better, but the same. For our lives to be valued the same.

    But the reality is they’re not. Rafael’s life was not valued the same as a white male especially one who comes from money. So he could be used as a pawn for those who have power, to play their political games and it continues. Is there not one person who we can rely upon to do the honorable thing?

    Rafael will need the support of his sister who has worked tirelessly for his release only to have him stolen from her again. I can only equate the experience to how our ancestors endured their families being ripped apart in Africa then repeatedly when they arrived on these shores and were sold and shipped to various states and islands never to be seen again. The prison system is an extension of the slave system and has been proven to mete out injustice disproportionately to blacks.

    I will continue to support Rafael and his family in the fight for his life! #blacklivesmatter #freerafaeldejesus

    One Love

  46. Obeji williams on March 11th, 2019 9:22 pm

    For all the good that this brother Rafael has done for his community he should be allowed to stay with his family and continue the good work he has done. Help make this system a fair one for all peoples! Much respect to Rafael and his family

  47. Noel B on March 11th, 2019 10:52 pm

    This is such a clear case of injustice. I know Rafael’s sister well and she is a fighter and a leader. I know the facts of the case well and it’s so obviously unfair due to how Rafael looks or where he comes from. I personally know plenty of cases where the person just got probation or a light sentence with very similar facts and they came from different backgrounds. It’s the sad reality of the US’s prison system. We cannot go back and give this man his past years back, but we can do right by him and give him this 2nd chance he so deserves after he served his time, and has had years of community service, study, and contribution to society. His art, his training of service dogs; and much more are proof he’s a positive part of society and he deserves the chance to study with the scholarship he was awarded. Let’s stand behind this family.

  48. Dina Magnes on March 12th, 2019 4:31 am

    Berenice has been advocating and relentlessly supporting her beloved brother, and in that advocating for justice and a better US. Please allow this man a chance to live in the US by his family and community, and contribute to the country that we all love so much.

  49. Amy Wilkins on March 12th, 2019 5:57 am

    This is a wonderful opportunity for our justice system to acknowledge a breakdown in the system and give Rafael the opportunity to remain with his family. He is a remarkable contribution to all around him and is a role model to others. We need more people like him right here in the US. Rafael is a man to celebrate and embrace!

  50. Sergio on March 12th, 2019 8:05 am

    The system is continuously failing Rafael. He received a harsh sentence for a non-violent crime. He is facing deportation and risks homelessness and isolation from his family. This is not the way our country should treat people. This is a man that paid an unfair price and adapted to a terrible situation by contributing to others. He already paid for his mistake. Let him stay in the US, with his friends and family. Enough is enough!

  51. zevi kramer on March 12th, 2019 9:23 am

    I call Michigan Governor to pardon Mr De Jesus and allow him to make a difference with the people.. He is a vibrantly brilliant man who is willing and able to support those who are not supported otherwise.

  52. Mary Ellen Kramer on March 12th, 2019 9:47 am

    Rafael’s case is an opportunity for our elected leaders to act inside the context that laws and policies are made to support humanity. When we look at Rafael, we see a man who has served so many people. Let the scales of justice tip toward compassion and acknowledgment of a life of service.

  53. Jessica Weisman on March 12th, 2019 10:03 am

    It is clear what needs to be done here. This man is a survivor. In the face of injustice, he continues to keep his head held high and share with us a smile of hope. His story needs to be heard. He needs to be given a chance to live as a free man here in the US, with his family. I will share his story with others. I ask that you all do the same. I stand behind his family. Make a beautiful life.

  54. Jamie Fleishman on March 12th, 2019 10:11 am

    I support his release! Please consider the light this man can spread in the world.

  55. Iryna W on March 12th, 2019 10:37 am

    Please let Rafael stay. He showed a great character after being in prison for 25 years! He didn’t have a chance to truly try to achieve his American Dream because of his incarceration. He deserves a second chance! Every human does!


  56. Alpha B on March 12th, 2019 10:52 am

    The system has already robbed him and his family of most of his life and it’s such a human injustice to let this continue and have him be deported.

    What does a person have to do to prove their “worth” to society to enable them to live an ordinary life just as everyone else? This man has been deprived of enough. Rafael deserves justice, freedom and to be reunited with his family!

  57. Erica Virvo on March 12th, 2019 11:27 am

    America is known as the land of opportunity. However, I’d be remiss to say that that’s only saved for select group of people. After just watching both Fyre Festival documentaries where a 20-something white man swindled hundreds of people out of millions of dollars collectively got ONLY 6 years in prison (which, let’s face it, he probably won’t have to serve the full-term for), it’s hard to look at this case and feel like it’s fair in the slightest. For DeJesus, who was punished so grossly on a non-violent drug-crime, who has obviously rehabilitated himself enough to get pardoned (not an easy task at all) after serving so long behind bars – is now being punished for something else. Let him have his life back. The prison already realized their mistake in setting the punishment so high. Let him be with his family and community. He has served his time. He has obviously changed his ways. He has a family waiting for him. He has loved ones fighting for him. If we wanted prison to be the end of someone’s life, we should just give everyone that goes in the death penalty. Prison is meant to be there to shake people up so they can restart their lives afterward. Why then, are we not letting DeJesus start over? Let him be with his family. I’ll be calling Governor Whitmer to make sure it’s known that I’m ALL FOR DEJESUS STAYING IN AMERICA!

  58. Ashley Heney on March 12th, 2019 12:44 pm

    I think that after spending that much time for a first time non violent offense, he’s paid a huge price and has leaned and transformed his life and has been a model inmate. With that much time that has passed his life outside if this country is completely over. His sister Bernice someone that I know very well and she committed making a difference for people in this world and she has taking this on in many ways, like causing people to live life from possibility. Her brother need to have that chance to have her be that support for him in certain that she will be that person to support him and hold him down to cause him to be a hugely difference making in this country.

  59. Maria on March 12th, 2019 1:43 pm

    Rafael is a victim of the racist “War on Drugs” that disproportionately impacted communities of Color, he has been a model member of his communities and his family cannot wait to have him free once again. Don’t deport him to a country he is now a stranger to. He is an amazing addition to this country. KEEP HIM HERE.

  60. Jonathan Vallejo on March 12th, 2019 8:59 pm

    It is his right to stay and create a new life in his home, The U.S. It is sad that folks like Manafort gets 42months for more serious crime, while you have contributing citizens like Rafael who have been unfairly over sentenced. #freerafael

  61. Maria C Ironside on March 12th, 2019 11:13 pm

    Dear Governor Whitmer,

    Your predecessor’s commutation was very much appreciated,

    Now that Mr. De Jesus’s sentence has been recognized to have paid back his offense, it is also time to recognize the basic unfairness of the criminal justice system that has stolen 24 years of his life. Mr. De Jesus, because of his youth and innocence, was a fall guy for others who escaped punishment. He was he young and scared and did not have the legal representation that someone with more resources could call upon.

    I kneel before you to plead for your justice and mercy to help Rafael De Jesus to remain and use all of his amazing gifts to serve his only community, the U.S.A., where his only relatives are citizens – something he was not permitted to pursue while incarcerated with an extremely harsh and unfair sentence.

    Please show that you recognize and would like to rectify the grave injustices of the system of mass incarceration by pardoning Rafael De Jesus and allowing him to take up the work he is being offered by Calvin College and his other devoted sponsors. You and the State of Michigan will be proud of taking this step towards justice.

    Most respectfully yours,

    Maria C. Ironside

  62. Marilyn on March 13th, 2019 8:24 am

    With the cannabis industry booming, people are making big money while those who’ve committed minor offenses are serving jail time, This man should be pardoned. He’s shown he is actively taking proper steps towards rehabilitation and giving back towards communities.

  63. Alecia Allan on March 13th, 2019 10:28 am

    Raphael has served his time and then some. While in prison he contributed and has made a positive impact on his community within prison and to society as a whole. It is challenging for anyone to be released from prison and not have a program and large community to help them reintegrate into society. Raphael deserves to have his family here in the US to do this. It’s unjust to send him to a country without any of the support he needs. He should be given the opportunity to stay in the US with his family to support him in this transition.

  64. Sam Orman on March 13th, 2019 11:21 am

    This man deserves to live a life of peace and freedom next to the ones that love him.

  65. Desi Tahiraj on March 13th, 2019 11:44 am

    Dear Governor,

    I am humbled to write and appreciate your tireless and tremendous work and dedication to help the citizens of your area. We All know that is a great undertaking and responsibility to fulfill every need and be as open as we can to various possibilities.
    Speaking of it , I greatly appreciate your effort to revisit the DeJesus case as we know that is unique case that compation and coming from the place of the Greater good take priority. That makes humanity and kindness a must.
    We are all human , and we all do mistakes. However in DeJesus case he paid his dues and above all today he is a person o common good that deserves the second chance.

    With My greatest Gratitude.
    Desi Tahiraj

  66. TADEO VILLAMAN on March 13th, 2019 12:29 pm

    Rafael De Jesus. He will be a free man pretty soon and send back to his country. But the US immigration and the criminal justice system did not give Rafael a 2nd chance deserve by him.
    In my personal opinion. Offenders such as Rafael, do not represent any kind of threat to society or this government. This person should be pardoned and allow to stay in this country contributing with knowledge. He is a very capable and skilled person which could contribute and help the community instead of harming it. Deporting him will be only a waste of good talantes and resourceble skills for this society.

  67. Lidia Bonilla on March 13th, 2019 8:43 pm

    Deporting this man would be an injustice and does not live up to this country’s beliefs. He deserves an opportunity to be a contributing member of society outside of prison, as it he has already demonstrated this as a prisoner. Please correct this wrong and release him immediately!

  68. Stephanie on March 13th, 2019 11:17 pm

    After over 20 years, Rafael deserves to be reunited with his sister and family in the US. He has served as a model prisoner and worked hard to develop skills and become educated so that upon his release he would be ready to contribute to society in a positive way. We “invest” in our prisoners so that they can have valuable skillsets to help them integrate into society and reduce recidivism; why are willing to strip Rafael of the opportunities waiting for him here in the US and send him to an unfamiliar place without his support system? Please do not deport Rafael and grant him the second chance he deserves!

  69. Genevieve Bergeret on March 14th, 2019 12:05 am

    Dear Gov. Whitmer,

    The aim of our corrections facilities is rehabilitation.

    This man, Rafael DeJesus, has been more than rehabilitated. He has shown enormous strength of character and dedication in the face of an unjust sentence. Now, he has the chance to be a significant contribution to society. He’s already an inspiration.

    Please grant Rafael a pardon, so he can stay in the US and be reunited with his family. He’s served more than his fair share. Please pardon him so he can return to being a contribution to society.

  70. Jo Vetter on March 14th, 2019 11:18 am

    Governor Whitmer holds the power to take a stand for Rafael. He has been deemed no longer a threat —as is evident by his release from prison— then why deport him? Why not reunite him with family? Why not give him the best possible chance of making a real difference with his life by reuniting him with his family here in the US.

    It is cruel to continue to isolate this man by deporting him to a country where he lacks the support to SUCCESSFULLY re-enter community. It is forward thinking and humane to give Rafael the chance he has proven he deserves.

    In addition to the compassion I am requesting, I hope Michigan will see the potential return on the investment they have made into Rafael if he stays here and has the opportunity to continue being a contribution to society!

  71. Kelly on March 14th, 2019 12:02 pm

    The unfair justice system stole years away from this man, and in doing so, limited his opportunities to apply for citizenship. Give him a chance to pursue this per procedure, and then allow the system to take its course. But, give him a chance.

  72. OOMS on March 15th, 2019 11:12 am

    1. He was a LEGAL resident prior to his arrest.

    2. The purpose of incarceration is to rehabilitate and reintegrate into society if possible.

    3. The judicial is suppose to be JUST (fair).

    For those who have followed up with this man’s case, you are aware of the UNJUST sentencing that occurred to this young man who had no priors.

    You must also be aware of the high recidivism percentages for inmates because often the rehabilitation process fails our inmates.

    But here we have this young man who is a shinning example of when the rehabilitation process actually works.

    Yet we are here debating whether we should or not unnustly punish this man by sending him to a country which at this point in life is foreign to him.

    Where he will have no support systems and no opportunity to use the tools he’s gained while incarcerated to improve his living situation.

    There is nothing JUST or FAIR about deporting this man; legally or morally.

    He has paid his debt to society. Allow him the chance to put those tools he has gained to be a community advocate.

  73. Liam on March 21st, 2019 11:51 pm

    100 yrs in prison for a first time drug offense? Now being deported? So hes american enought to be in our jail for 100 years but not live as a free man? Lets take aother look at this, please. this is a glaring example of the inquities in our stystems. My request is that if someone who can actually make a difference in this area reads this that you go ahead and do whatever you need to do to see that this sort of thing is corrected. Its not just him, this is just one example of a systemic problem, in order to solve these systemic issues we need to start with the most glaring examples of these injustices, like this one here.

  74. Genevieve on March 24th, 2019 9:09 pm

    He has paid his dues for his actions. I believe he deserves a second chance. He spent his time investing in himself and would be a great advocate within his community.

  75. Dr Gloria waldman on April 7th, 2019 11:17 pm

    This is a travesty of justice . Rafael should definitely be free to stay in the United States!

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