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Lourdes Barraza, Northern California: “Turning Our Anger and Fear into Action”

A message from Lourdes Barraza, Immigrant Support Coordinator, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity

With the announcement last week, that several major U.S. cities would be terrorized by the cruel machine known as ICE, our family was once again forced to imagine what it would be like if we were separated and what our plan of action would be if this actually happened. Undoubtedly, threats such as these, serve as further proof that this administration thrives on intimidating immigrant and mixed status families. They do not seem to be satisfied knowing that we are already living with so much uncertainty about what our family will have to endure in the coming weeks, months, and even years. I have had many mixed emotions to deal with this past week and a half; feelings of fear, anger, disgust, and anguish. For those of you who know our families’ story, you know I have tried so very hard to stay strong for my husband Fernando and our girls, but I have come to the realization that I do not always have to be the strong one and that I must allow myself the opportunity to be afraid and to be mad just like all of you are.

Ever since we were notified that Fernando’s protection against deportation was revoked, we have had to live with the continuous fear that when he leaves for work in the morning, he may not return home. In all honesty, it is torture for me when I call or text him while he is at work and I do not hear back from him immediately because my mind takes me to a place I wish I never had to return to. The idea that he is not returning a call because he was detained by ICE is very real and I do not wish this upon any human being. However, not only are they causing this torture upon us by making threats of raids, they take it even further by playing with our existing fears and using us as pawns. It is incredibly painful to live this way and it is even more painful, as a parent, to know that your children are living with the same emotions and that it is out of your control. While we can attempt to ease their consternation, we cannot give them the guarantee that tomorrow we will wake up together, as the family unit of five that we are.

There is one thing that is for sure though, and that is that we must continue to demand that our elected officials, that WE put into office, do not allow this administration to use immigrants and their families to their advantage. I wanted to share my feelings with you, so that you could take them and multiply these feelings by hundreds and thousands of others who are living the same way. As I have done in the past, I will work through these fears and turn them into action and I invite you to do the same. Let’s continue fighting for the right that our immigrant communities have to live in peace, without having to look over their shoulder every time they leave their home or when they hear an unexpected knock at the door.

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