June 21, 2021
President Joseph R. Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Biden,
My name is Celia and I am a daughter of immigrants. I often wonder how different my life would be had my parents not been afforded the opportunity to become citizens. I am grateful that I have the privilege to call myself an American, but as a border resident, my heart breaks at all the injustices I see play out.
The fight for migrant justice is something that has always been close to my heart because, as a child of immigrants, I understand the reasons people feel the need to leave their home. It is absurd to me that there are those who do not understand that no one wants to willingly leave their families behind. Would you leave your family and the only place you’ve ever called home to risk your life on a dangerous journey to unknown lands just because? People are escaping violence, poverty, and situations often caused by US policy, only to be received by more violence. After risking their lives in search of the American Dream, they are faced with the nightmare of immigration policy.
As a border resident, the issue of immigration is nothing new to me. I grew up seeing Border Patrol everywhere and recall Border Patrol agents harassing my mother as we waited to be picked up at the bus stop. We used to visit my uncle, her brother, who would get picked up at work to be thrown in the detention center, but the militarization of our border and the detentions have worsened. There have been makeshift centers and even facilities designed for children who are being separated from their families and kept in centers that are more like kennels than prisons. The conditions of these detention centers are deplorable and inhumane and something that our country, and you as our president, should be appalled by and moved to end. The fact that multiple children under the age of ten have died under Border Patrol custody should be more than enough incentive to address these issues.
I have volunteered feeding hundreds of refugees who have fled their homes in desperation hoping to seek a better life, but instead confront the realities of being a migrant in the United States. I have volunteered with organizations who provide shelter for migrant minors and have attempted to create a pleasant social experience for these young, traumatized, impressionable minds. I have marched in the streets demanding justice, organized rallies, worked at centers helping migrant farm workers who feed the nation, but there is only so much that we as concerned citizens can do. We are relying on you and the rest of the policy makers to keep your promises. During a pandemic, I drove my elderly immigrant parents to the polls to make sure they cast their votes for you. The Latinx community showed up in support of the Biden campaign hoping that things would be better than with the prior administration. It is time that you show up for the Latinx Community and keep the promises that got you into office.
We demand an end to the separation of families. We demand that all detention centers be shut down immediately. We demand the freedom to work with safety and dignity. We demand a reunification of families and accountability for the children that are unaccounted for. We demand an accessible avenue to citizenship. We demand access to asylum for those who seek it rather than being told not to come. Lastly, as border residents, we demand an end to the militarization of our home, including the halt of construction of the border wall, ending deployment of troops to the borders, and halting the increase of Border Patrol and DHS agents.
This matter is urgent. We have been waiting for too long for politicians to keep their promises on immigration reform while people, some as young as two years old, die in Border Patrol custody, in detention centers, in the desert. Families are being separated and people who know no other home besides the United States have been deported because their family brought them over as children. Those who are not deported live in fear, criminalized for something they had no say in. Every human deserves respect and dignity, regardless of their citizenship status, and change is way past due. We are counting on you and your administration to do the right thing.
Celia, El Paso, TX