‘American mom’ hosts fundraiser for former Webster University student in ICE detainment


Photos of a young black man decorated a cardboard trifold display sitting on a table along with signs and informational sheets. Snacks, baked goods and dozens of multicolored shirts surrounded the display in the University Center.

Christine Salamone created this display and planned on using it to educate students on the situation faced by former student Francis Ladege. Ladege, an immigrant from Sudan, has been held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainment since 2015.

“Francis is being deported to a country, South Sudan in Africa, that is full of war, famine and slave-trading,” Salamone said.

Salamone ran the ‘Let Francis Stay’ table independently. She organized the event to raise funds and awareness for Ladege’s cause.

Ladege, who moved to the United States in 1999, met Salamone while he was a student at St. Louis Community College, Meramec. Salamone would go on to become Ladege and his brother’s “American mom.”

Webster criminology student Josh Johnson said he knows Ladege’s brother personally and had no idea of his circumstances.

“Knowing that [Francis] is going through this is crazy,” Johnson said. “I didn’t know Francis before today, but my heart just goes out to him. I can only imagine what he’s going through.”

Johnson said he did not think Ladege’s punishment fit the crime he was convicted with.

“It didn’t add up to me,” Johnson said. “I’m still confused on how just five grams of marijuana can turn into him being shipped all over the country.”

The t-shirts were a suggested donation of $10. Baked goods, including gooey butter cakes, rice crispy treats and brownies, were $1. Ribbons, wristbands and magnets were $2, $3 and $1 respectively. A ticket for a t-shirt raffle costed $1.


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