Biden Promised to Protect Immigrant Families Like Mine. Instead He Deported My Son.
Over 2 million people have been deported, expelled since President Biden took office
By Maricela Santos Hernández
My story is like that of many immigrants.
I am a single mother with two kids who made the difficult decision to leave my home with the hopes of providing my family and my young children with a better, safer life. The decision to create a new life for my family in the U.S. — a country unfamiliar to us — was terrifying. But as a parent, my children’s safety has always been my top priority. So when I discovered that someone close to our family was inflicting unthinkable harm and trauma to them, I knew I would do everything in my power to protect them.
It’s a common misconception that migrating to the U.S. is an easy process. For Black and brown migrants in particular, there have and continue to be numerous hurdles intended to keep us out. Whether it be the anti-Black violence and deaths at the hands of immigration enforcement or policies like Title 42 that rapidly expel Black and brown migrants at disproportionate rates, our country’s immigration system has always been based on deterrence rather than built on humane and equitable systems that welcome families like mine.
Because of this reality, migrating to the U.S. together with my children all at once, was not an option. I reckoned with the realities of families detained and separated upon entry and made the decision to migrate to the U.S. first to ensure I could save up enough money to start my family’s new life here.
After two years of working in the U.S, I was finally reunited with my children. Despite working, building a sustainable life felt impossible for me and my family. Knowing only Spanish and lacking access to a community, it was extremely difficult for me to make ends meet financially while also supporting my children through the emotional toll of being in a completely new environment with new schools, new peers, new home.
My kids and I had received therapy for the trauma we faced both in Mexico and in our journey to the U.S. but as many trauma survivors understand, those wounds are difficult to heal and even when they do, the scars remain.
I continue to carry those scars and there are days when they feel like fresh, gaping wounds. When my eldest son, Angel, was an adult with three children of his own, he was detained for three years, faced with constant abuse inside detention centers. Angel had been arrested after officers said he failed to attend his immigration court date. I had gone with Angel to court, yet despite the obvious lies of the officers’ claims, they proceeded to arrest him and stormed into our home with guns drawn to tell us they had taken my son. My three grandchildren, all under the age of three at the time, witnessed in horror.
For three years my son suffered physical and psychological abuse at the hands of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. For three years he was separated from his babies. For three years, he sat in a cell, longing for his family. Just when I thought he might finally come home to us, Angel was deported a month after President Biden’s inauguration.
When I received the news, I felt helpless, a feeling of emptiness came over me. How could this be true? How could it be the case that so many families like mine are met with even more trauma and violence when we try to build our life in the U.S.?
At the center of this country’s immigration system are families like mine who make the difficult and often painful decision to migrate and are met with further abuse, trauma and even family separation at the hands of cruel and traumatizing agencies like ICE and CBP.
Many, like me, believed that after Trump left office, the pain and anxiety we felt as immigrants would come to an end. We know that is not the case, more than 2 million people, the majority of whom are Black, brown and LGBTQ, have been deported under President Biden.
I used to be afraid to tell my story for multiple reasons but now I feel that unless you speak up, others won’t know what you are truly living through. I know many of the things that have happened to me and my family can’t be reversed but by telling my story, I hope others will see they aren’t alone in their struggle and truth.
President Biden has the power and moral duty to deliver on his promises to protect millions of immigrant communities, end all deportations, and bring back our loved ones who were deported. My greatest wish is to have my son come home. That is why I traveled to Washington, D.C. in the first week of March to rally outside the White House so I can tell my story.