"If the United States would deport me from America, the only country I know, my community would lose the benefit of a reformed man who now has knowledge to give to the youth. My grandchildren are just learning about their grandfather. My children, who just adapted to having their father back, will be losing love only a father can give.”
Credit: Kristina Sumfleth
Robert Panton, a Black man from Harlem, has lived in the United States for 50 years. He is a devoted father, grandfather, and respected role model. But now ICE plans to deport him for a single criminal conviction from over 30 years ago to a country he does not know, tearing him from his beloved community and family despite his transformation and years of service to those around him.
In Harlem, New York, where he grew up, Robert is a renowned community leader famous for his work mentoring and teaching youth through critical community programs. Robert’s devotion to his neighbors is his way of passing on the lessons he learned through incarceration and transformation.
Robert served more than 30 years in prison for a single, non-violent criminal conviction during the height of the U.S. government’s “War on Drugs.” Like many other Black men, Robert suffered the disproportionate treatment of the racially unjust criminal legal system. Today, due to recent reforms, that same conviction would would likely result in a sentence of one-third the time he served.
But now, even after fully serving his harsh sentence, Robert faces a second punishment: deportation and separation from his children, grandchildren and his beloved Harlem. This is due to the broken U.S. immigration system that doles out a double punishment for Black men like Robert. Even up against this injustice, Robert continues every day to give of himself to his loved ones and his community.
Despite his exceptional service to Harlem and support from New Yorkers and members of Congress, ICE will deport Robert in six months. Robert deserves an overdue second chance so he can continue to serve the many loved ones and young people in Harlem who depend on him.
Tell the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to STOP Robert’s deportation. They have the power to let Robert stay! Sign the petition now.
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Hear Robert share more of his story. In 2021, when Robert was detained in immigration jail, he shared what it felt like to be detained and unjustly punished again, and why we need to change laws that criminalize immigrants.