Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Melting the Ice


I spent all day today trying to melt a little more ICE, and by "ice" I don't mean frozen water.

Not that long ago I sat in the visiting room at an ICE detention center in Newark, New Jersey. While I waited for the person I was there to visit to be sent for, I couldn't help but look at the other families in the room. In some cases husbands and wives were both detained and were having their once-a-week visit with each other.

There were a lot of tears in that room.

I saw one family that still haunts me, two parents visiting their teenaged son. When they brought him out, after all the hugging hello, he sat down across from his mom. She took his hand and held it, stroking it. Every now and then she reached out and caressed his cheek. I didn't have to know them to know their story. He was her baby, and he was about to be sent back, alone, to a country he might not even remember.

As I looked around the room it was not lost on me that we were the one family in the room that was laughing and smiling. That is because we were the one family in the room that had any real hope.

As an immigrant rights activist I've seen a lot of horrible things happen to people and fought a lot of battles. This is the toughest one so far, though, because children's lives hang in the balance. All the time spent in hospitals and court rooms fighting for justice on behalf of adults pales in comparison to the heartache of having to tell a devastated five year old that her papi isn't coming back because he was deported - and then have to try to explain to her what that means.

There was a window of a couple of hours today when things looked dire. I thought this is it, we're about to be rolled over by the unthinking, unfeeling avalanche that is ICE. The crisis was averted, but it left me drained mentally and emotionally.

Hard as today was, I know we're still the lucky ones.

I want all of the other families going through this to be lucky, too. I don't want even one more kindergartener to have to cry for a deported parent.

NOT ONE MORE


El Hielo Lyrics

Eva using a rag to wipe clean the table
Cautiously making everything shines like a pearl
When the boss gets home, she hopes there’ll be no complaints
Accusing her of being illegal

Jose tends to the yard, they look like Disneyland
He drives an old truck without a license
It doesn’t matter if he was a taxi driver in his home country
That doesn’t count for Uncle Sam

Chorus:
ICE is on the loose out on the streets
You never know when your number’s up
Cry, Children cry when they get out
They cry when mom’s not coming to pick them up
Some of us stay here
Others stay there
That happens for going out to find work.

Martha arrived as a child and dreams of studying
But it’s hard for her without papers
Those who were born here get the laurels
But she never gives up her fight

Chorus:
ICE is on the loose out on the streets
You never know when your number’s up
Cry, Children cry when they get out
They cry when mom’s not coming to pick them up
Some of us stay here
Others stay there
That happens for going out to find work.