Today we share with you one more story and picture of one of the recipients from our Families Reunidas Bond Program, Elias. This young man was finally released from the Otay Mesa Detention Center, and was able to play piano and drink wine and talk until his family was able to pick him up, and have a bit of joy and normalcy after everything he had been subject to.
Elias is a nurse and a political activist fleeing persecution by the Venezuelan government, only to find his life was not safe in Colombia either, he set out for Mexico to apply for asylum to the U.S. one year ago. From that point until now, he was subjected to a combination of racist policies and the worst luck ever. He was forced to wait in Mexico pursuant to this administration’s illegal “metering” policy, and then under the despicable Migrant “Protection” Protocols (MPP). He got an immigration judge who is notorious for denying asylum, and after his final court he was taken to “las hieleras”/“iceboxes”(tiny, crowded, and freezing holding rooms) only to end up detained in Otay Mesa. He then got a deportation officer who, after two months of me asking about the status of our parole request, told us she never received it. It took filing a habeas petition in federal court to get an unaffordable bond amount of $15,000. ICE refused to reduce the amount and federal judges refuse to release healthy people from Otay Mesa despite COVID multiplying from 1 case to over 100 cases in only a month.
Today, Elias’ luck changed. He was released because of the relentless work of San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium and our Border Angels team. We are incredibly thankful to all of you have shared and supported our program, and to board and program committee member Kirsten Zittlau for all of her hard work in this case, because as she said, “It takes not only a village these days, it takes a community.”
Let this story serve as a reminder of all the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and community members waiting in such conditions in detention, simply for seeking a place or a part in this country. Elias represents so many others being subject to racist and inhumane policies, and we must not forget the urgency of getting everyone we can out of the Otay Mesa Detention Center. This pandemic continues to be unforgiving, and we will not allow any more lives lost. Again, we thank you for your support and ask you to continue to help us make sure our folks are #FreeAndAlive.
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