(U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)
Another chapter in the land of the free, but only if you’re a citizen.
Now he only works one job instead of two.
He’s been here since 1985, has paid taxes on his houses
at his jobs
since he walked across the border
when he was 20 years old.
His wife earned 90 dollars last week.
She cleaned 8 houses, top to bottom.
Their two children are citizens. Beautiful. Bi-lingual.
Dressed in their school uniforms.
They do not know their father is in danger of deportation.
The parents haven’t told them yet.
The police stopped him after he “ran a red light.”
They handcuffed him.
He has never been ticketed.
He has never been in trouble.
He has one year until his court date.
The agonizing hours. The calls to lawyers.
The waiting. The grief. The fear.
La migra know everything now.
Where they live. Who their children are.
And she cooks in the kitchen, waiting for her
husband of 25 years to bring the children home
Posole, enough to feed the whole family and
their friend, who eats with them every night
so the friend doesn’t have to eat alone.
Enough to feed the tiny girl who lives upstairs
and has to take care of herself because her
mother is working and her father no está.
Her diminutive voice squeaks out an hola
to the other visitor at the table this night,
They welcomed me in
like I had always belonged there.
Podemos invitarla para Thanksgiving?
“Can we invite her
for Thanksgiving?” the 9-year-old son asks.
The 12-year-old daughter proudly shows me
her song she wrote about the kingdom of God
for school. “Do you like it?”
Yes, it’s beautiful. But it seems
so far away.
ICE, how dare you rip this family apart?
How dare you give them PTSD, fear
that at every turn,
you will take him away?
She can’t live without him.
The white wedding anniversary party dress
hangs in the dining room,
a specter incessantly whispering
how many more years will we have
In Mexico they have no chance at survival,
They want to raise the children here,
where there is opportunity.
But, ICE, you call them and threaten.
You give them false hope and you
pour on the fear like it’s icing on a cake.
How you wield your power.
This country was built by fear and force,
on the backs of slave and now immigrant labor.
You let them in, take advantage,
and then send them home
when you are through.
You with your handcuffs, stealing
from their families that they have worked
hard to become established. Working two jobs.
to get the kids through school.
So they can have a chance at something better.
They are feeding others,
but you don’t seem to care
that if he’s taken away, the little neighbor girl will go hungry.
Your justice serves only
the powerful, monied, gated,
The “everyday American” benefits from your work,
complacent, ignorant, implicated.
We are ICE, too. I bear guilt as well as the armed
agent, hunting for an “illegal”.
If only you could sit at their table with them
and see what a beautiful family they are. Surely
that would soften your heart
and force you to feel your humanity.
If only you could catch the jokes they tell
the way she scolds the neighbor girl to sit
correctly on the chair and not slurp her posole.
But all you see
ICE, leave this family alone.
If only you would accept them
like they accepted me: with hugs and
invitations to return anytime I want.
They sent me home
with at least three servings
and an entire cake
to share with those around me.
I didn’t have to eat dinner alone tonight.
They welcomed me in, and invited me back.
They adopted me.
But you, ICE, with your frozen heart
and your rigid system
and your unrelenting torture,
the way you hang over people,
slowing their hearts and congealing
You deserve to hear the words that you say to so many:
You are not welcome here.
Go back to where you came from.