by Arlin Karina Tellez Martinez
The weekend following the Fourth of July, the immigrant community continues to prepare itself against the terrorizing threats of ICE raids made by Donald Trump. I spent my Fourth of July, preparing a deportation packet for my family and me. The packet includes all our important information in case one of us is deported. My calls home have become shorter in an effort to avoid my mom’s questions about my emotional well-being. I prepare to train community members and inform them of their rights in case they are detained by an ICE agent, but I can’t bring myself to share the same information with my parents without feeling like I am already sentencing them to their deportation. Anti-immigrant legislation is not new, tied with the criminalization of Black and Brown bodies. The reports of death seem so familiar to us; it’s almost as if we’re desensitized from the heavy reality of what another death in our community means.
The death of Oscar Martinez and his daughter, Valeria, has been weighing heavily on me. It was a trigger that I hadn’t experienced before. I crossed the border at the age of four. I crossed the same river where the bodies of Oscar and Valeria laid with my own mother. The image shown across various news articles continues to make me sick, and it sent me back to the night that I crossed, the water weighing down my jeans, being constantly assured by my mother that Mickey Mouse was on the other side of the river and all I had to do was to be quiet.
My mother and I, like Oscar and his family, were also displaced from our country by the late effects of US intervention in our countries. The “War on Drugs” in Latin America has led to a larger criminalization of Black and Brown bodies internationally, leading to poverty and violence. As Catholics, it’s our duty to speak out against this injustice. Genesis reminds us that God created us in God’s righteous image, and the criminalization of the migration of Black and Brown people is sinful. We must fight to end the criminalization of migration and any agencies that perpetuate it such as ICE and CBP (Customs and Border Patrol). We must also fight to close the detention camps which are prisons. We cannot forget the pipeline that leads to deportation, and the belief that people are disposable and should be caged is unholy.
I pray upon St. Jude, saint of desperate cases, to intercede and bring the liberation that immigrants deserve. I pray that one day, my worry will not be the separation of my family, and my community is given the opportunity to thrive.