Photos and story by Andraya Croft

On a hot summer day in July, Edwin Silva, 22, was at the beach with his two sisters and friends when he received a phone call from his father.

Police were at Silva’s home in Westland wanting to confirm his place of residence.  Not long after he returned home, ICE, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, pulled into his driveway in unmarked SUVs.  Silva was detained and taken to jail without even saying goodbye to friends and family. He was told he was going to be deported.

At two years old, Silva moved from Mexico to Michigan with his parents in search of a better quality of life.  For two out of the 20 years Silva has lived in Michigan on a visa, he graduated from college, was accepted into University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and was offered a full-time job at Ford.

He is involved in the community, has started a non-profit organization, is a regular at St. Thomas A’Becket Catholic Church in Canton, and is very close with his friends and family.

One night in July of 2014, Silva left a party after having two beers.  While turning left at a light, he was hit by a vehicle, and the impact forced his head through the driver's window, leaving a permanent 6-inch scar.

His blood alcohol content was under the legal limit. However, it was two months before his 21st birthday, and he was charged with a DUI.  Because of the misdemeanor, he wasn’t able to renew his visa, which led to the arrest on July 23, 2015.

With the support from friends and family, the judge released him with a bond after he spent 12 nights in jail. “Border patrol told me I was going to be deported, but I continued to have faith,” said Silva. “I wouldn’t be here without my friends.”  Without his knowledge, his friends sent letters to the judge and arrived for his trial in Detroit.

Still fighting for his freedom, Silva is in the process of becoming a permanent American citizen.  Despite all his difficulties, Silva still finds time to spend with friends and other members of his community.  He works three jobs: full-time for Ford, part-time at Carrabba's, and helping his father with his Upright Fence Inc. business.

“The reason why I want to stay in Michigan, and why it’s so important for me to stay here is because Michigan is my home. The life I have lived here in the United States is all I know. My family, my friends, and my memories are all from here," said Silva.

"Even though I come from Mexico, I consider my friends here more as family, it’s sad to say and probably weird to hear, but I don’t know my family in Mexico. My education and everything I know about my life is here and to be told that someday it can be taken away just because of one mistake, is not only devastating but heartbreaking because the thought of leaving my parents and my two sisters is hard enough. I don’t know how much more clear I can be, but my life is here so I need to be here. I want to see my two sisters graduate high school and college, I want to be there for when they go on their first dates, I can’t leave my family or friends. I love the life I have lived here and will continue to live here."


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Bio: Andraya Croft is a senior at Central Michigan University working as a staff photographer for University Communications.  In December of 2015, she will graduate with a Bachelors of Science and a Major in Photojournalism.  Croft has been shooting for about 3 years now, and hopes to do long-term documentary work in the future.  “I want to connect with people through photos - to relate to them, to inspire (and be inspired), to influence change or simply bring a smile to someone’s face,” she said.

Experience: As one of a team of 14, our goal was to bring awareness to immigration, migration and refugees.  I focused specifically on immigration and after hearing about Edwin Silva's story I knew that I had to meet him.  Over the time span of one week not only did I gain a good friend but got to know an incredibly humble, caring, hard-working and driven human being America would be lucky to call one of its own.  It didn't take long after meeting Edwin and his family that they made me feel a part of the clan, I have a feeling I am not the first person to have felt this way.  Right away I was accepted as who I was, it was easy to care for them because they were all so caring themselves.  What was hard was to show Edwin's struggles and the effect that the incident in the summer of July of 2014 had on him.  Along with the fact that their is a chance that he could be taken away from the only life he has known over the past 20 years of his life including his relationships with friends, family and community that he is so close too.  And even with everything he has gone through and the pressure he has, he holds himself together at all times and is always positive and optimistic about the future.