By Celia Garcia Perez, Break the Chain Campaign Advocacy Intern
A little over a month ago Break the Chain traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to hear the testimony of immigrant women and children who are affected by the anti-immigrant climate in the U.S. Tiffany Williams, Advocacy Director for BTCC, was one of the delegates for the We Belong Together Campaign. This campaign is a response to SB 1070 in Arizona, HB 87 in Georgia and HB56 in Alabama. Here is the story of one woman whose reality reads like a terrible nightmare.
Claudia came to the US in 2006 when her husband brought her here from Honduras. He came first then sent for her to join him. Soon after she arrived her husband became very violent.
He told her that her status would be used against her. He would beat her on a weekly basis and she never called for help because she was afraid of the police. One day she went with her husband to get documentation for her son and was caught by the authorities. She was immediately deported. Her husband kept her son. He told her that he would send her son back to Honduras but he never did. She had no contact with her son for over a year. Claudia eventually made it back to the US, to be with her child and family. They were living together again and her husband was still beating her regularly. The scar on her face is a result of his violence. She had a job but couldn’t drive so a friend from work would drive her. Her husband assaulted the friend with a knife. Her husband has also chased her and her son with a knife. A neighbor called the police and her husband was arrested but was released. Soon after he got home he called the police and told them that Claudia was harassing him. The police came to the house and asked for her name. She was scared so did not tell them but was still handcuffed and taken to jail. When they arrested her there was nowhere else for her son to go.
Claudia is one of the millions of courageous yet undocumented women who are in the U.S. stuck in legal limbo. Because of the very real fear of deportation, they effectively have no protection against physical violence, family separation, or criminalization.
As an intern, an advocate, and a daughter of a first generation Mexican American father, this struggle is very personal to me. Maybe it’s also because I have a cousin named Claudia who lives in Michoacan, Mexico, who has to struggle with raising her own child amidst poverty and corruption. It does not seem just that I am entitled to education, healthcare, freedom from bodily injury, a public voice- in short, access to all of the human rights that U.S. citizens are afforded- when so many others are not.
I wanted to know what I could do about these everyday injustices. The We Belong Together Campaign has some answers.
- Support for Delmy Palencia- Ms. Palencia was another one of the delegates. She is a mother and leader of the Congress of Day Laborers in New Orleans. You may have heard her story about being detained and separated from her nursing infant for 45 days. She is currently fighting a battle against deportation proceedings and urgently needs your support. Please join the effort to oppose her deporation!
- A Wish for The Holidays Letter Campaign- The We Belong Together Campaign has launched a "Wish for the Holidays" letter writing campain to gather 5,000 letters from children and youth in support of immigrant rights. We want them to talk about why being together with family over the holidays is important to them. This will call attention to the negative effects of deportation and family separation. The plan is to deliver these letters to decision makers in DC in time for International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2011. We need your support in helping to gather these letters!