Grabbed by ICE, Still Fighting

A Struggle to Stay in My Home, Santa Barbara

Credit: Kevin Siers, The Charlotte Observer, NC

I am a human being, a daughter, a sister. I’m not only an alien, but I am a mother, a wife, and co-worker. I am a part of my community — not just an “A” identification number in the immigration system.

On June 26, 2019, I was cited to meet with Officer Fontanilla under the impression that ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] only needed an up-to-date photo and proof of residence for their files. However, once there I found out I wasn’t going to see my daughters for some time. Fortunately, my case was on “hold” which prevented me from being deported on the spot.

Six weeks later I was released from the Adelanto Detention Center with a $10,000 bail raised by my family, friends, and community. I left the facility with an ankle GPS monitor. Now I have monthly check-ins at the Santa Maria ICE location, and they make weekly home visits that require me to be at home. It’s a hardship to my household because I am a single mom providing the sole income.

In Adelanto, every night was nightmare. We slept by day and stood awake all night. In my mind the days went by quicker. It really felt that the mattress was most bearable during the day.

The system separated us by three different jumpsuit colors, blue being the least or minor offenses, orange being medium, and red the deportable felonies. I was in orange. The personnel were about 70 percent Latino/Latina, and when you’d ask them why they had picked the position, they’d say they want to be the difference in a racist system — just like me they came from immigrant parents and their family, too, also migrated to the United States for a better future.

At three years old I crossed the hills on my grandfather’s shoulders as we followed a “coyote,” chasing the American Dream. In 1995, my dad, my mom, and I filed for asylum, but lost our case to a fraudulent lawyer; we got tagged as a “deported-voluntarily” departure. However, with this we got our social security numbers and permissions to work, which have now expired after 25 years.

Five years later my parents tried for the cancelation of removal, which was approved. But what we found out that June 26 was that I hadn’t been included and/or that my status was undetermined. I had to go through the removal proceedings again.

This is the hardest part to say in my story: At 5 years old I became a victim of molestation and at 16 I was raped. Although this is a difficult part of my life to state in public, I feel it is necessary. It is why I became a troubled teen and young adult, and the reason behind why I received a criminal conviction.

I remember my psychologist asking me to crumple up a piece of paper and then asking me to make it exactly as it was before crumpling it. You can’t, but it is still the same piece of paper. I know that I will never be the same, but I can be myself and it’s okay because I am the strong individual I am today.

I am a human being, and I, too, make mistakes. And I deserve a second chance. I deserve to take my kids out of the country, on vacation, or across the border to see their grandparents. Most importantly, my kids deserve the opportunity to have their mother caring for them and cheering them on. If I am deported, the greatest hardship will be on them.

So, with all that said, I want to ask my friends, my family, and my community to come together once more for me and help me raise money to pay my lawyer fees. I need to submit two separate Visa-U applications. Additionally, I have to request a cancelation of removal and submit for “hardship” for my girls. Please help me stay with my girls!

Checks can be sent to me or directly to my lawyer: Santa Barbara Immigration Lawyers Inc., 330 East Carrillo Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101.

I want to thank those who have helped, continue to help, and plan on helping. I could have never done it without all of you! You guys really have come through! I love you all!

Lord, listen to my prayer. It’s like a sacrifice I bring to you; I must have more revelation of your word!
Take my words to heart when I ask you, Lord; rescue me, just like you promised!
I offer you my joyous praise for all that you’ve taught me.
—Psalms 169-171

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