Most people live their lives only having to lose their father once. I’ve lost my dad twice; once from my parents’ divorce, and another because immigration enforcement agents took my stepdad away. That year was the hardest year of my life, and I’ve had some hard years in my life. They did not just take my mother’s newly-wedded husband away; they took away my baby brother’s dad, our father, our family’s provider.
My mother, my siblings and I have always struggled, starting when my single mother decided to go back to school with three small children at home, and then afterwards when she moved us from place to place trying to find work. My mother would work so much that she would sometimes leave the house at 5:30 a.m. only to return after my sibling and I were asleep.
When they took my stepdad away, we were at first concerned, not knowing where he had gone or what had happened to him. After we found out he had been detained and was facing deportation, we realized that our mother would have pay for help to get him home and take care of the bills. Attempting to straighten out this issue took all of our savings and still resulted in his deportation. With one of our primary breadwinners gone, our family was thrown into poverty and now needed government assistance to make ends meet. Around this time, my mother found out she was pregnant with my baby brother.
On top of going to school full-time, my sister and I worked to save up money every month so my mother and I could visit my stepfather in the state prison where they were holding him. The first time I visited him, I was appalled at how poor his living condition were. They treated him as if he were a criminal. It took eight months for the state to address his case and even longer for them to deport him.
Those days were the hardest days for me and my family. Now I strive to help push for needed immigration reform. Immigration reform isn’t just a human rights issue; it’s an economic justice issue. It takes away breadwinners from families and often thrusts entire households into crippling poverty.
I am now working with the Center for Community Change to change the public’s view on certain populations like immigrants, people struggling to makes ends meet, and people who have been incarcerated so that they may not continue to struggle in today’s society. By helping to voice these people’s stories, my aim is to show the public and those sitting on Capitol Hill that these issues are some of the most imperative issues of our time.