In Refuge and Resistance on Mother’s Day

May 13, 2018
6:00 AM

My name is Aura Hernández. I am originally from Guatemala, and I have been in sanctuary since March 1 of this year as a result of the harsh immigration policies of Mr. Donald Trump. The worst is that not only am I deprived of my freedom, but so are my children, Daniel and Camila, both of whom were born in this country.

Photo courtesy of Aura Hernández

I am a survivor of sexual abuse committed by a Border Patrol agent.

It happened in 2005, when I first came to the United States and was detained.

Since then, I’ve lived in New York for 13 years. But when I reported to my ICE check-in last November, they told me I was going to be deported even though I’ve spent years fighting to receive a U visa as a result of the abuse. So I sought help from the New Sanctuary Movement, and they gave me the support I needed to find a church where I could take refuge. I arrived at the Fourth Universalist Society of New York, and they committed to join me in the struggle for justice.

Not everyone has the courage to speak about sexual abuse in public. I was one of these people. I didn’t speak out at the moment the abuse occurred, and for that reason, I’m facing deportation. Now, immigration authorities want to silence me. But I’m continuing in my fight for a better future for my children—especially my daughter, Camila, whom I have to protect.

The trauma is like a cross, but speaking out makes it lighter.

For this reason, I’m calling on all the women, girls, and boys: Find the courage to speak.

I know it’s not easy. I know this abuse has no cure. But speaking will bring you justice. Remember: we are not criminals. ICE and Border Patrol agents are criminals because they are violating us and our rights.

Unfortunately, there are political interests in both the United States and Guatemala that have turned immigrants into a business. I can’t condemn my children to a future without hope or opportunities.

In Guatemala, teachers are forced to strike for weeks on end because of corruption and injustice. The country is paralyzed, and it’s been a month since the teachers have taught classes. I’m sending solidarity to the teachers and others in the struggle in Guatemala, but I have to fight for the future of my children in this country, the United States, and not condemn them to an insecure future.   

So far, regional ICE director Thomas Decker has not shown even a tiny bit of humanity, especially for the children who are suffering as a result of the separation of families. So I’m calling on the pueblo of New York for support.

Today is a special day, Mother’s Day. I am inviting you to join my struggle of resistance to defend the rights of children to be with their parents.

The way you can support me is to send letters to the regional ICE director Thomas Decker, saying it’s a great injustice and a mistake to separate families, and that it is inhumane to force us to seek refuge, which deprives us of our freedom and causes emotional and psychological harm to our children.

As a community, with our hearts in our hands, we are fighting for the opportunity to be united as families again.

Happy Mother’s Day.