These are not “cases”, they are people.
A little over four years ago Organized Communities Against Deportations began as a project that sought to support people in deportation proceedings. It didn’t take long before we started meeting people and entire families ready to fight against the unjust immigration system.
That’s how I met Genoveva, who shortly after being released from detention shared with the group how the night before she was released she prayed and prayed until a light illuminated the dark and cold cell where she was being detained. She says that was a sign. Genoveva didn’t know us but we already knew her.
That’s how I met Anibal. One day in early December of 2013, we got a call about a raid in an apartment complex in Albany Park. The details were appalling but also confirmed that the monster targeting and disappearing members of our communities will stop at nothing to detain and deport. With lies and excessive force, ICE detained Anibal but he wasn’t going to go without a fight. He fought and with the help of community support he was able to come back home to his son Franky.
That’s how I met Marlon. Sometime in 2014, I found myself supporting his family with an online petition. Through those conversations I learned about Marlon, a caring father that took his family on a vacation and ended up in deportation proceedings. I learned that, like Genoveva, Marlon was also fighting to keep his family together.
That’s how I met Dina. A young mother from El Salvador facing deportation after police facilitated her transfer to ICE. Many people told her her case was over, that there was nothing she could do. She didn’t give up. Dina is soft-spoken but don’t let that fool you, her voice is felt like the strength of a thousand winds echoing with her desire to fight.
That’s how I met Felipe. A father of two, who ended up in immigration detention after he went to apply for a Temporary Driver’s License (this was in the early stages of the implementation. Felipe, who spent a month in detention but was convinced that fighting back against his deportation would not only help him but also others in similar situations.
Genoveva, Anibal, Marlon, Dina, and Felipe. These are not “cases”, they are people. They are part of the essence and thread holding together this fight against deportation and criminalization, exposing the faces of the institutions that seek to drown our communities into fear and despair. They are “la lucha”.
Tomorrow, they will walk together and face ICE, because although destiny connected them through tricks of its own, they are now one. A nucleus of fuerza and perseverancia, con la convicción de que juntos le ganamos a la migra.
This blog was written by R. Wences, a co-founder and community organizer with OCAD, and published on Facebook on August 30, 2017 — a day before Genoveva’s check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.