Revolution #80, March 4, 2007
Stories from ESL Students
“When Are We Going to Live Without Persecution?”
The following stories of raids against immigrants by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) were written by English as a Second Language students in the Bay Area:
The O. family was a victim of ICE roundups. Mrs. O. was ready to commute to her work when Immigration agents stopped her and asked about some person. The agents said that they were police officers, but they didn’t show her any ID. Mrs. O. answered, “I don’t know any person with that name.”
Then the agents asked her many other questions. She said, “I don’t speak a lot of English, let me ask my husband.” She tried to go inside her house, but the ICE agents held the door and went inside. The agents were beginning to search for more people in the home. They opened the door to every room. In the house were two children and Mr. O., who were asleep. They awoke afraid because the agents turned their lights on the children’s faces.
Mr. and Mrs. O. were arrested and the children were almost taken to Child Protective Services. Mr. O. called some relatives who came to take care of his children. Mr. and Mrs. O. were transported to Immigration Offices in San Francisco and they were put in jail. Then they were transferred to Tucson, Arizona. Mrs. O. said, “It is terrible to stay in jail. I didn’t get any good food. The officers took off all of the arrested people's clothes. We couldn’t keep our own underwear. We just wore small underpants and a top of a linen bra. This was really hopeless and disconcerting because I didn’t have any communication with anybody… I didn’t know what was happening with my children, my husband or myself.”
When Mrs. O’s family put up the bail, she was released from jail during the night. The agents just left her at the bus station in Tucson. This was terrible because she didn’t have any money. She was afraid. She sold her earrings to get some money to take a taxi and spent the night at the Arizona airport, while she wanted for her brother to drive from San Pablo [in California] to pick her up.
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I was listening to a history of one person, who was living in Richmond for many years. He went on his bicycle early in the morning to work. He never imagined that this day would be the last day he would look at his family. I don’t remember the street it happened, but the ICE stopped and asked a lot of questions. He told them the truth about his immigration status. They took him and brought him to the ICE truck. He was sent to the jail in Martinez. He was deported to Mexico in 2 weeks. His family is too afraid and worried because their rights were violated and they do not know what to do.
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I’m writing this story because of the panic we are living in about immigration. My friend Maria and one of her daughters of 6 years old are in trauma. On Wed. January 31 at 6 p.m., my friend was surprised by many police saying they have a warrant and because of fear, she didn’t open the door of her apartment that she was renting. They broke down the door. They entered her apartment and searched everything. They asked, “How many people live here?” and they wrote down their names. Then they said to my friend, “We give you a few weeks to empty your apartment and go.” What is your advice in these cases to the people with the same situation? How long is it going to take to disappear the psychological trauma of this 6-year-old child? Until when are we going to live without persecution?
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