My First True Story

I hope the Becoming Visible Campaign can humanize immigration policy by telling true, human stories. But for the past couple of weeks I’ve had a hard time finding those stories. I teach at a private college and live in a middle class neighborhood in Mobile, and I don’t see too many Hispanics. But today I found this wonderfully compelling story in a CNN news report by Gustavo Valdes. Gabriella Velazquez is a mom taking her kids out of school and packing up everything. It’s happening all over Alabama right now. Here’s a condensed version of the story, shifted to the first person for even more empathy:

I am Gabriella. Tonight I’m packing to leave Alabama. I crossed over into the U.S. with nothing but my clothes, and I’m going back the same way. You never know what life will bring. When we left our family in Mexico, they didn’t know what would happen to us. But my husband Marco became a carpet installer and I took jobs in restaurants, hotels and grocery stores. I was not planning on having kids, but here they are. I was not planning to sell everything to move back to Mexico either, but now I am. This law gives me no choice. My family is everything. I’ll make a final meal for my family tonight and get on a bus with my kids. My son asks, “Why do we have to go, why am I not going to school anymore?” His teacher is black, and she cried when I told her we are leaving. She told me about the struggles her people had in this same state. This law allows police to take me away from my children anytime, to disappear me, to make me invisible. So I will disappear before they do it for me. Isn’t that what they want anyway?