By Luna Castro, Guest Writer
“Mira necesito que vean esto” (Look, I need you all to see this), my father told my family one night after we had just finished eating dinner. He started to play the news from earlier that afternoon. It was a report about undocumented immigrants being arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) without a warrant. That scares me, because I am the daughter of undocumented immigrants, and I am afraid to lose my parents. I live with this fear every day, and it is always in the back of my mind.
Since the 2016 election, our lives have become harder to live than ever before. I, along with my siblings, was born in the United States. If ICE were to deport my parents to Mexico, I would be the one who would take care of my siblings as soon-to-be 19 year old.
Donald Trump is now our president, and racism has grown against us Latinos. The president of the United States described Mexicans as drug dealers, criminals and rapists, causing the Latino communities to be considered criminals on national TV by Trump and his followers.
ICE has been in the news recently for incidents of barging into families’ houses. This has been happening for a while, but the arrests have been happening more since the 2016 election. Hate crimes have grown more in our country. For example, The New York Times reported an incident in Los Angeles where 3 men attacked Hispanics with a knife and shouted racial slurs.
According to The Washington Post, “There were more reported hate crimes on Nov. 9 than any other day in 2016, and the daily number of such incidents exceeded the level on Election Day for the next 10 days.”
I hated reading and watching the news, because all I would hear were insults. Americans who have a different skin color are being discriminated against because of their culture, they’re a descendant of an alien or they’re speaking Spanish.
Well guess what? “Soy Mexicana y con mucho orgullo!” (I’m Mexican and proud.) My first language is Spanish, and I’m proud to be able to speak such a beautiful language.
I love being a Latina, but it is hard representing my Latin blood here in the United States. It is especially difficult since my parents are aliens to the country that I have lived in all my life.
When my father showed us the report, it portrayed a large number of undocumented immigrants being arrested. The Washington Post stated, “Reporter Maria Sacchetti found that ICE arrested 21,362 immigrants since Trump took office; immigration arrests are up more than 32.6 percent from the same period last year.”
I was stunned by how fast these arrests were being made. After that report, my dad told my sister and I that this could happen at any moment to him and my mom.
“Si ves a ICE en la puerta no abras la puerta por nada. Si yo o tu mamá está fuera de la casa y ICE está fuera de la casa háblanos de inmediato!” (If you see it’s ICE, do not open the door under any circumstance. If your mom or me (my dad) is out of the house and ICE is at the door, call us immediately!)
He then showed us another video where two parents were being arrested by ICE. One ICE officer had the dad on the ground with the mother against the wall. The daughter records them and yells, “Why? Why come here without a warrant? Why are you taking my parents? Why did you push me out of my door!?”
The woman cried and yelled so much that one of the ICE officers pushed her into another room. The ICE officer then guarded the doorway of the room and kept her away from her parents. The daughter yelled to her parents to not sign anything and that she loves them.
My eyes filled with tears as I watched this family fall apart, because the same thing can happen to my family too.
My dad told us if ICE comes in, record it all, take care of your siblings and call your uncle, your godmother or anyone in our family who you know are citizens. He then looked at me and said to me to not fight them like she did. He wanted us to be strong and make sure that he could see us be strong together for the last time.
From that point on, we’ve been cautious about who we open the door to. My parents are so scared to call the police when they see something happening. Once people got into a fight outside at 2 a.m. I called the cops. My mom went paranoid, saying that they would come for my dad and her because I gave the police our address. I was scared enough by the fight, but my mom scared me even more saying things like, “Those people can call ICE and end up deporting us. You think it’s so easy since you’re the one who has documents of citizenship.” I cried to sleep that night wondering if I made the right choice or not.
All my life, my parents have been working hard to achieve the American dream; to them, that means having a better life and escaping the chaos of their native country. They love America so much.
There are millions of undocumented immigrants who also love the United States. I have family members and friends who are undocumented. They have enormous difficulties trying to study, work and make a living in this country. Most of them escaped from the chaos of their country and came for a better opportunity. Most of them stay, because they need to make money for their families back in their native countries.
So why do these undocumented immigrants stay in the U.S., anyway?
Hope is the reason they stay. Hoping for a better opportunity or a better lifestyle. Living every moment with their friends and families. My family is one of my motivations. They keep me working and studying hard to get my degree. I hope they don’t miss important days, like when I walk that stage to get my degree or the day I get married. I am afraid of what might happen, but hope is what motivates me and what probably motivates others in a similar situation. We are all trying to make a living, and we hope for the best in the future.