by Alex Aldana
More than two months have passed since I got out of detention after crossing the border as part of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance’s Bring Them Home campaign. The hours that broke my spirit inside those cells is time I haven’t been able to recuperate. There isn’t a day that passes where I don’t think of the people that still remain inside as prisoners of the government.
I keep thinking about the stillness of the holding cells, the hopelessness of my status in this country, the idea of not knowing, the experience of being chained from my legs, waist and hands. How many families did I see separated? How many people came in with the hope of a new beginning, only to leave traumatized, their plans backfiring, their lives changed forever?
With the thousands of migrant children from Central America fleeing violence only to be detained by Obama’s administration, we now have a humanitarian crisis. This is not news to me.
Those who risk everything for a better life are a walking migrant force, a breathing microcosm of despair. They show resilience at every step, even those who never make it—the women and children too young or old to qualify for a work permit; the abused; the beaten; those who didn’t graduate from college, but fought every day to keep their communities safe from la migra.
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I am one of these people, and illegals like us are the broken. Tonight, like many nights, nothing soothes the traumas and nightmares that come as a result of the Amerikkkan way of dehumanizing people in detention centers. Tonight, I think about Central America and their children. Tonight, I think about the homeland I left behind.
I think of the thousands of children who have experienced abuse inside detention centers—kids like my sister, like my friends’ siblings. They’re piled up in cells by the dozens. Tears stream down my face and I spend my nights shivering in anger. How will these children cope? Will they ever forget how Murrieta welcomed them by blocking their buses? Will they ever be able to forget the white supremacist signs?
Let me tell you more about the anger I carry.
This past March, I assisted in organizing a historical crossing in which political refugees from Mexico and Central and South America, some of whom were queer and trans, turned themselves over to immigration in San Diego, CA. Not all of us made it across. Not everyone supported us. I lost many fighters in the movement and many were swallowed up by this government.
My spirit splits in pieces at the thought of those who were devoured. Loved ones were deported, some never to be heard from again. Some, just like me, got angry at the system. I thought we had it, but we didn’t. My confidence, my belief in this form of organizing, has been wounded. Our homelands are also wounded. Mexico is currently adopting anti-migrant policies against Central American immigrants. My homeland is adopting xenophobia.
I remember being at the border in Guatemala. People mounted La Bestia by the hundreds, only to be welcomed by the cartels with guns and torture instead of food and water. Being a queer feminine vato raised in the north made me an easy target for homophobes and rateros, though that was no comparison to cartels and military targeting Central American migrants because of their indigenous looks and identities. Not having money means death for them. Queer and trans migrant people are persecuted in my country as well. In Mexico, hate crimes against LGBTQ people, are on the rise.
I can’t help but have anger for those who remain silent about this issue, the pro-immigrant corporations, the human rights organizations that only seek to protect white, cis gender gays and “good-immigrants.”What about illegals like us, terrorized brown and black bodies that are baffled by the misinformation circulated and hatred perpetuated? Do we deserve to be incarcerated, deported, enslaved?
There are consequences from being in detention. I’ve been battling depression since my release. However, I might be broken, but I’m not defeated.
Let me tell you about my healing.
With no money to survive, it hasn’t happened. The asylum process, the need to “make our fear credible,”has drained me and put me in crisis mode.
How do we speak to heal collectively? How do we address the fact that this system is fucking up the mental health of minors and ruining innocent lives? A new, trans-generational trauma is being created as we speak and it will impact thousands of lives, including mine.
I get disgusted by the idea of being disposable.
I am a political refugee and I am not wanted in my homeland or in this country. I am portrayed as a national threat. We have privileged and oppressive immigration attorneys like Susan Pai, harassing queer and trans undocumented immigrants on social media. These people are profiting and building their businesses by questioning our humanity and pushing for the deportations, of people like me, in the name of Immigration Reform.
Illegals like us are on the verge of exile, but where do we go?
Illegals like us, fighting for our lives, matter so much more than a piece of paper. Here, regardless of whether we are Amerikan or Undocumented, we belong to a system that will continue to perpetuate our identities now matter how legal we get.
It’s going to take more than people like Pai to deport us. It’s going to take more than President Obama and this bad government. We will fight this transnational crisis. We will continue refusing to send children back to certain death. We will continue fighting the unethical detainment of political refugees in detention centers of trans and queer folks like Marichuy.
Let me talk to you about our liberation. Us illegals, the most impacted, are declaring war on these policies. Just as militias are escalating their violence, we too will become a more aggressive and dangerous threat in the name of love—love of immigrant communities that have been long disrupted and displaced by bad governments and bad policies.
I take comfort (sin verguenza )in the words of Assata Shakur: “Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.”
People often have a problem with my joto identity and problematic voice because I am an angry, betrayed, broken illegal. I am a political refugee on the verge of exile but I’m not the only one resisting. We are too many. We are crawling back to the shadows, waiting, calculating our next move for the enemy and for those whom wish to remain on the side of the oppressor. We will fight with our greatest weapon of choice: Our Truth and existence.
But, deep inside my anger is a cure: Hope. Hope for our communities, and our allies, to rise up and fight back for the humanitarian freedoms and liberties that do not exist under this system.
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Alex Aldana is a (queer) migrant Jota, writer, and movement organizer with the East Bay Immigrant Youth Coalition. He uses his body and soul’s uncensored opinion as a weapon of political and radical truth against current U.S. Terrorism against immigrant and LGBTQ Communities.