CLEVELAND — Graduation will be bittersweet this year for a senior at St. Edward’s High School.
Though Jackson Seo, Jr. will be going on to college and even has some scholarship money, his parents will be unable to make the special day.
“What I keep telling my son is, ‘Hey, God is the best. At least you have a graduation. Some kids do not even have a graduation,’” Jackson Seo, Sr. said.
Seo, his wife, and their son fled Liberia, West Africa 17 years ago after war claimed their loved ones.
They eventually landed in Cleveland, where they bought a home and had a daughter.
Jackson, Sr. worked as a payroll administrator for non-profits serving the disabled, while Jackson, Jr. became an honors student and played soccer at St. Ed’s.
But then things took a turn.
Jackson, Sr. said ICE showed up at their door and urged them to leave the country or face deportation.
They had paid taxes and attorneys, and even had temporary status, but that was still not enough.
Ultimately, the parents fled with their daughter to Canada and left behind Jackson, who was protected under DACA.
“Knowing that ‘Oh, my parents might not even be here for my graduation, my parents won’t be here for homecoming or anything to support me,’” Jackson, Jr. said, “That was the hardest part.”
The parents have since spoken with their son every day and now take nothing for granted.
“I thank God for even getting us to this point because when I left in 2017, I didn’t even believe that my son was going to reach the milestone of talking about graduation,” Jackson Seo, Sr. said.
He and his wife are now working towards possible Canadian citizenship.
They are also asking the community to help with their son’s college expenses through a GoFundMe page.
Friends are also writing letters urging lawmakers to help the parents obtain green cards.