“Lucia” (not her real name) speaks about the pain of being separated from her children by ICE. Photos by Amalthea Aelwyn, used with permission
Lucia’s* voice is cracking. She can’t hold back the tears as she describes being incarcerated in the GEO Group ICE detention facility, where a crowd is gathered now to hear her.
“Lucia”* fled her father’s abuse and horrific civil war in Guatemala to come to the US in 1998. She went to school here, but had to drop out of high school when her mother died of cancer.
“Lucia” has raised a family, worked, and made a life here, but when her husband was pulled over at a traffic stop, both were incarcerated in the ICE facility in Aurora. For a week, her children had no idea where their parents were, or if they were alive or dead. They finally were able to post $1000 bond each, and are now working their way through the system, trying not to be deported, trying to keep their family together.
Marguerite and Cristian addressing the crowd at Families Belong Together rally. Photo by Amalthea Aelwyn, used with permission
Cristian from Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition is a vibrant young man with a wide smile. He is a student leader at his college.
But Cris is a Dreamer, and if DACA protections are rescinded, he could be deported at any time.
He tells the story of how his mother carried him and his young sister over the border, and how she has worked ever since to maintain the family.
“My mother has been on that waiting list (for citizenship) since 1999,” he said. “My whole family pays local taxes, we pay into Medicaid and Medicare, Social Security, we pay Federal taxes, local taxes, sales taxes. We pay for programs we will never benefit from. We’re helping to take care of our nation’s children, of our senior citizens. We are not a burden. The real burden is the moral burden Trump is imposing on this country with these policies.”
Marguerite, from Colombia, said,“ I see this building behind you and it pains me. It hurts. Because I would have to wait in line to see my son. He waited for months there to be deported back to Colombia. There is no illegal human being on this earth. The only way we can become illegal is to break our laws and hurt each other. But we’re not doing that.”
Lucia, Cristian, and Marguerite are speaking to a diverse crowd of about two hundred people, gathered in front of GEO group’s vast, windowless, grim ICE facility in Aurora on June 14, 2018, to protest the Trump administration’s new policy of separating families who are crossing the border.
I am part of this protest. We are here because we feel that we must “do something” to stop the atrocity of tearing families apart and incarcerating the young children of families who come here seeking asylum.
Over 11,000 children have been separated from their families while crossing the southern border since March, according to NPR. About 46 kids a day are being torn away from their parents. This is not including the unaccompanied minors who were already showing up at the border by the thousands.