I am the daughter of two Mexican immigrants and the sister of three more. Since my childlike mind started making sense of the world, my parents and brothers were legally within the United States. Even further, my little sister and I had been born with a gift. We had the gift of being United States Citizens. But answer me this: why do I, someone that has never had to concern themselves with ICE, never had to even consider them knocking at my door in the middle of the night to take a loved one away, having such visceral reactions to a simple office situated by a bay in Miami, Florida?
At work, the building is called “Immigration Court,” and although the rest of my group had gotten to visit on Monday, I did not. When presented with an opportunity to go I jumped at the excitement of taking a mini-trip. Some who had gone before told me how beside the building, in the bay, one could sometimes see manatees.
We walked in and I didn’t think much of the building. Like any other court, they had security, and it was a relatively sterile building with all glass walls facing the water. We had to go to the second floor, where DHS was located. One thing I did not realize was that on the DHS floor was where ICE’s office would be located. Stepping out of the elevator we turned left and there was a door that let us know we were entering an ICE office. I touched the door as trepidation settled into my being. I touched that door. I can still feel how my fingers felt on that door. To anyone else it might have been a normal door, but to me that door symbolized everything wrong. All the terrible actions that ICE has committed. Where they separate kids from their parents, where they mistreat the immigrants they have detained and sexually assault them.
While in that room, the single minute that we were in there, I could not sit. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and I wanted to throw up. I wanted to cry. I wanted to get away, to get out. I felt like even sitting on their disgusting furniture was a way in which I was supporting their actions. And I could not stomach that. Upon leaving such a silently traumatizing room, we returned to a beautiful view–a view of the water and buildings sky-high, demonstrating how beautiful Miami is.
To the friends that reached out to check on me, I want to thank you. I did not realize how affected I would ever be. And I do not know how you knew, but I want to thank you. Had you asked me how I would have reacted to ICE, I would say that I’d stick it to them. Instead, I cried when I got the chance to be alone. And somehow, my friends knew.
To the immigrants and kids of immigrants and anyone else that has ever loved someone that is considered an “Alien” by US law, I want to say I am sorry. I do not have to fear ICE. They are not going to detain me. My closest loved ones do not stay up at night praying the ICE does not come knocking at their doors. We do not live in fear of ICE. But yet we do. And if I get this reaction from seeing a door with their name on it, I cannot image the fear one must feel seeing them. Having to interact with them. I am sorry that you have to deal with it. I am sorry that I am affected when I am aware that I have no reason to be.