The Forrester Family


Dana Forrester met her husband, Astley, while on vacation in Jamaica. Astley was working as a security guard at Dana’s hotel when they met. She was grieving the recent loss of her mother at the time, and discovered that Astley had also just lost his own mother; this brought them close together. After Dana left, they spoke on the phone every day, becoming extremely close and falling in love. She soon returned to Jamaica and they were engaged. Dana became pregnant with their daughter, Lilla Lora, who is named after Astley’s late mother.

After applying for the fiancé visa for Astley to come to the U.S., immigration officials told them they should marry right away in order to secure the waiver needed to consider and waive his previous convictions. As an adolescent in Jamaica, Astley was convicted of possession of marijuana on two separate occasions. The amount was minimal; he was made to pay a small fine to the Jamaican Court and he served no jail time. As a result of these charges, he has been permanently barred from entering the United States.

Dana and Astley got married in Jamaica, but soon discovered that immigration officials had misunderstood the circumstances of their case and had advised Dana and Astley incorrectly; marriage would not provide him the waiver he needed to join his family in the U.S. Because of these old and minor marijuana possession charges, Astley cannot come to the United States under any circumstances.

Dana cannot move their family to Jamaica as she is the primary caretaker for her ailing father and has a son from a previous relationship. She is struggling to take care of her family on her own without the support of her husband by her side. Astley calls Dana every morning to wake her up, drink coffee and read the bible together.

Their daughter talks to him every day through Skype and often says that her “daddy is lost and can’t come home.” She has tea parties and plays games with her dad over the computer. Dana’s son, Imanni, is nine years-old and is very close to Astley, seeking out his advice and help with homework.

The Forrester family is now forced to live their lives together through machines and electronic correspondence. They are waiting for the day that they can live together as a family.

The Immigrant Justice Network is a leading advocacy voice against the criminalization of immigrants in the United States. Grounded in racial justice values, we build power to defend the dignity of all immigrants.