A Letter on Father’s Day…

In acknowledgement of Father’s Day, I would like to share a letter written by Yamil Jr., the son of my friend Claudia. This will be the second year he can’t be with his dad on Father’s Day because of the U.S. detention system. 

Through his story, we see the dysfunction and inhumanity of U.S. immigration and detention policies that need to be challenged. To put it simply, detention and criminalization of migrants who are seeking refuge and a better life must end. This is a battle we must fight on both sides of the border, #DeAquiyDeAlla, and those of us who are in Mexico we’ll be loud about it. Who in the U.S. is going to stand with us?

My dad is like any other person and one day he had many dreams like I have now, and when he was 19 years old he decided to go after them. He left everything in Mexico and settled in Wichita, Kansas, where he met my mom and it is here where I was born and grew up until I was 6. But one day a judge decided to deport my dad, which forced my mom and me to leave our home because we had to go with my dad, he was always our support. I also felt I was being deported from my own country. My dad is my hero and for me, he is a soccer superstar. I grew up watching the soccer games he played and now, I am also a soccer player and I play the sport with the same passion he did.

It’s been almost two years since I returned to my country and home in the U.S. with my mom after she joined the “Bring Them Home” campaign and was part of the #Dream9. She was also detained for two weeks as my dad is now, but unlike my mom, they are no letting him come home, he is not allowed to come out of that place where I could only visit him 2 times in almost two years.

This August I will start high school and I will be playing for my school’s soccer team. My dad taught me everything I know and he always gave me advice for my games, with his help I learned to multiply, and how to add and subtract. Now I feel very confused. I don’t know what to do without him. My middle school teachers tell me that I’m a good soccer player, that if I improve my grades I can get a good scholarship to go to college, which is one of my dreams, but when I think about the years ahead in high school, I feel very lonely without my dad. My mom is great and in these months that my dad has been in detention, she has not stopped working so that I continue to move forward, but I see her and I realize how difficult it’s for her to be alone in her own legal fight. But this is our home, we want to be here, I see my future here, I don’t want to go back to Mexico. There I lived in fear, thinking that I could die at any moment, from the beginning I never felt welcomed, I attended 5 different elementary schools, my dad was kidnapped by corrupt police officers just for ransom; my grandfather, my uncle and two of my mom’s uncles were killed in Mexico, and no one has done anything about it. I feel safe here but I also need my parents with me.

Yamil and his dad

If my dad was here, our lives would be better, my mom would not have to work two jobs and I could focus on my dreams with the support of both my mom and dad. But that’s not how it is, I know I have to work harder to succeed but without my dad I feel very lonely, I keep waiting for him but it seems forever, I feel angry because my dad is locked up for simply wanting to be with me. We are a small family.

What makes me happy is that my mom and dad love each other very much but I need to know, why do we have to be separated? Why has my dad been detained for 20 months in Eloy, Arizona? He has remained strong because he knows that if we go back to Mexico, our lives are in danger and he needs to know that we are going to be well.

Today is Father’s Day and I miss my dad more than ever. I don’t want to feel alone and I don’t know if I’m the only one going through this. Does anybody have a magic wand? Who has the power to bring our family back together? I no longer want to be without him, we have never hurt anyone, he needs to come home.

Dad, if you read this letter, I want to tell you that I miss you, I need you, I need your advice, I wished we could play soccer and the Xbox games we’ve always liked to play together, watching movies, eating the burgers you cook, I want you to see how happy I am since I returned to where I was born. Having you by my side would make me the happiest person on this planet. HAPPY FATHER’S DAY.

(Yamil Yaujar Amaro)

Click HERE for Spanish translation.

Audio recording (Spanish) of Yamil Jr. calling his dad at Eloy Detention Center this morning to wish him a Happy Father’s Day:

More on Yamil’s case on Newsweek (Spanish)

Please like “Yamil Needs His Dad” Facebook page.

#FathersDay #EndDetention #WeBelongTogether


Dream9: The Dreams that speak for the 1.8 million deported

If you have not heard of the #Dream9, then I taken upon myself to tell you about this group of young Dreamers (undocumented youth). They are part of the bigger movement of youth pushing for humane and comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S.

On July 22, 2013 in an attempt to challenge the Obama administration deportation policy, a group of nine Dreamers, three of which crossed the border into Mexico, attempted to ask for their lawful entry through a request of humanitarian parole at the Nogales, Arizona port of entry.

This action alone resulted in their detention as Department of Homeland Security reviews their requests. 11 days have passed and they continue to be locked up, with difficulty in communicating with their families and even placed in solitary confinement. This is the treatment that young organizers who pose no threat to national security are receiving by immigration authorities. Unfortunately, their experience is that of many that are trapped in the detention system.

I know what it is to be detained, but my stay did not last a day as I was expediently removed from a country I knew to be home for almost 20 years. I can only imagine what it is to be locked for a prolonged period of time. Indefinite detention is what these Dreamers are facing.

Dream9 Marching to the Nogales, AZ Port of Entry | Photo/National Immigration Youth Alliance
Dream9 Marching to the Nogales, AZ Port of Entry | Photo/National Immigration Youth Alliance

Criticism has arisen from a faction within the immigrant movement about the actions of Dream9, even calling it a “diversion” and a “publicity stunt”. Call it what you may, I finally feel there is a group within the immigrant movement that has addressed our plight, those of us that were forcedly uprooted from our homes and communities. Public debate on immigration reform has only focused around the 11 million undocumented immigrants that currently live in the U.S. but tend to forget about the rest of us; the only difference between us and the 11 million is that immigration reform will have come too late.

These Dreamers are experiencing legal challenges with their request to return, thus highlighting the inadequacies of an immigration system that is incapable of addressing individual circumstances of its non-citizens. Why did the three Dreamers cross the border into Mexico knowing they would not be able to return? To remind us that the U.S. immigration system is broken and reform is needed now. Although for Dream9, it could come at a high price. Some of us have already experienced this loss.

For over 10 years, the Dreamer movement has grown out to claim what has been denied to them; to be accepted as contributing citizens. They have protested in the streets, organized massive rallies, confronted police and immigration agencies, staged sit-ins in legislators’ offices, and even lobbied Congress. But after every election cycle, they have nothing to show for it; mostly a consequence of the inadequacy of Washington D.C. to address the issue rather than the effectiveness of the Dreamer mobilization. If I were to make a wild guess, I think this is the reason why Dream9 took it upon themselves to challenge a “system of expulsion” that keeps separating families. For these families, waiting is no longer an option.

Regardless of the outcome from this act of disobedience, I join those who believe it to be “one of the most powerful protests in immigration reform”.

As a member of Los Otros Dreamers, I stand in solidarity with Dream9 and ask the Obama Administration to do the right thing and let these Dreamers join their communities and homes in the U.S.

Mr. President, the action that your administration takes on this issue will be a reflection on your real stance with respect to the immigrant community.

Click here to read letter we addressed to President Obama.

To listen to our recent Spanish radio interview with Ruben Tapia in Enfoque Latino KPFK 90.7 FM about Los Otros Dreamers actions in solidarity with Dream 9, click below:

Updated August 3, 2013

Yours Truly, A Tijuana Dreamer

I’ll like to post a version of an email I sent to my friends this weekend, sharing with them (and now with you) something I am very excited about: Having my story being featured in the book Dreamers.

Dear friends,

Some of you I have known for a long time, others I have met recently since my “transition” to Mexico. More than three years have passed since, but it seems and feels as if it was yesterday when I lived in my Los Angeles hometown.

Today I was remembering my first week in Tijuana, in particular, the day I attempted to reconnect with my life in the U.S. I was on a mission to find a place with Internet access. After walking many blocks in downtown TJ, feeling disoriented, confused, and lost… there it was, a cyber café near Revolución Blvd. I reserved my spot, logged into a computer and my email account, and I started typing emails to all my friends to tell them about what had just happened – an abrupt deportation that had left me stranded in my native country I had not seen for almost 20 years.

Thanks to technology, we have been able to keep in touch. Some with more frequency, others with an occasional email or a status update in the social media world. But regardless of whether communication is constant or not, all of you have a special place in my heart and thoughts.

What has happened since? So much that I am not able to cover in one email but there is one thing I wanted to take the time to share with you. My experience of deportation is beginning to shift from being a personal tragedy to a story of the collective immigrant experience; a community in the U.S. that that continues to push and advocate for immigration reform. Instead of being one more statistic in the “Out-of-sight, Out-of-mind” list, I have the opportunity and  responsibility to be a voice for so many that may lack the resources or support to be able to share their stories of struggle.

Since I made my story public last year, I have been blessed to have many that are interested in listening and understanding the complexity and dysfunction of an immigration system that led to my forced removal. As a result, my experience will be shared to a wider audience as it is featured in the book Dreamers (Spanish Edition) by Mexican journalist Eileen Truax which will be available to the public this month, in the U.S. and Mexico.

Dreamers is a book that helps us understand the state of U.S. immigration through the experiences and voices of young undocumented immigrants. I am humbled to be included among eight courageous Dreamers who have redefined what it is to be undocumented and have led a successful movement that we hope will translate into policy changes.

Dreamers by Eileen Truax released May 2013

Eileen Truax will be presenting the book at La Feria del Libro (Spanish Book Fair) Los Angeles at the LA Convention Center, next Saturday, May 18, 2013.

Currently, the book is only in Spanish but with a successful launch, we hope that a translation will be made available so that our stories can be shared with the English speaking community.

A border might prevent me from being there physically, but I will be there in spirit. I would love to hear from you if you happen to have an opportunity to attend.

I conclude with a note of gratitude because it is very clear to me that without you, my story would have remained a tragic one. Whether it was in the form of a call/email of encouragement, shelter and food, a visit to Tijuana, a letter of recommendation, or sharing my story with others, it all made the difference in turning it into one that is now filled with renewed hopes and dreams.


A Tijuana Dreamer

Published in La Prensa San Diego on May 13, 2013