Posted on March 18, 2010 by felipe | Post a commentFROM: Lockhart, SC (within the city limits of Jonesville)
*Felipe giving testimonial at Townhall Meeting, Miami and Leslie graduation photo
A few days ago, I woke up thinking that I would experience an average day. Little did I know that I was going to witness one of the saddest episodes of the walk. I received a call from a good friend letting me know that Leslie Coche had been detained aboard the Tri-Rail -a local train system in Florida, from Miami to Palm Beach County, as she was going to class. I was shocked and speechless for a few seconds as I heard the voice through the receiver asking for help. Allow me to introduce who Leslie is:
Leslie is an eighteen year-old girl who had just graduated from high school with honors and could only afford two classes at Miami Dade College due to the high fees required as a “non-resident” student. She was brought to this country when she was only ten years-old and is currently the youngest inmate in Broward Transitional Center (a detention center in South Florida). What was her crime to justify her being picked up without any respect to her rights?
Leslie symbolizes the reason why we need immigration reform now that ensures family unity and equal access to education, but most importantly, she is a very clear example that our political leaders’ words do not match their actions. President Obama and his administration have continuously lied to us by saying that they are only seeking the deportation and detention of “criminals”. Our communities continue to be raided and the current system does not fail in stealing away those we love. While any student in the United States was thinking about his or her test or homework, Leslie was getting detained in the train station on her way to school. After this infamous call I imagined the following scene: Leslie sitting on a bench, waiting for the train (probably reading a book or doing homework) and out of nowhere an officer approached her to ask for her “papers”. Why this is relevant to me in specifically? I used to take the same train to go to school, the same campus Leslie attended before she was detained a few days ago. I know that route too well to know that I could’ve been the one asked for my papers at one point and taken away.
Students like Leslie and I, who depend on the Tri-Rail to go to downtown Miami to attend school at Miami Dade College, would have to take at least two hours of public transportation. This sacrifice now became intensified by the fear inflicted on us due to the flash raids that Customs and Border Protection agents are doing. Episodes such as her detention are the reason why I walk. I walk because I know everyday thousands of immigrant youth go to school asking themselves when their name will come up in the Department of Homeland Security’s deportation list. We have become sitting ducks, not knowing who is getting hit next.
The constant terror of deportation is such a prevalent part of our lives that we, undocumented youth, forget the strength we truly have. Last year, we stopped several deportations and this year we can’t fail to do the same. More than ever, we can’t hide or be quiet. When people come to me and ask my status I “come out” once again.
Yesterday a man who was hurting due to the sickness of his wife approached us with great dismay. He said, “The reason why my wife can’t get a liver transplant is because people like you are draining our system.” We were able to speak and change his heart by breaking the stereotypes we heard so many times in the media through our personal narrative. In the end of the event he told us that we weren’t at all what he expected and basically realized that we weren’t in fact the cause of any of his wife’s ailments. If all of us were to do the same and talk to at least a neighbor about our status, sharing our personal, human stories, so many hearts would change.
The question that remains is: how can we prove that people like Leslie should not be criminalized and taken away? How can we ever ask for change if we are not willing to work towards it? Freedom is not free, it only comes through struggle and hardship, but most importantly through courageous acts. Speak up! Do not keep quiet! This is your turn to make sure that your story or Leslie’s get to be told through the mouths of people who understand the issue and can properly testify on our behalf. It is up to you to either tell your story through your mouth or let people like Glenn Beck say it for you.
Some ways you can take action NOW to help Leslie Cocche is to:
*this is an answering machine, once it is full it is out of commission for the day. Fill it up now with calls supporting Leslie.
*This is a live comment line, i.e. a human being will pick up and take your message. Be very polite “I am calling to leave a message of support for Leslie Cocche, I ask that Director Morton contact Field Director Rebbecca and defer Leslie’s deportation, she is an asset to this country.”
**You may be advised to redirect your call to the Florida field office, whose number is below. It is still important for the D.C. office to register the number of calls received on her behalf.
3) Call the Miami field office (Miami Office of Detention and Removal Operations) at (305) 207-2001 to urge deferral on Leslie's case. If necessary, you can provide them with her "A" number, A089-231-361
Posted by: Barbara on March 19, 2010, 5:15 p.m.You young people have all my blessings. You are a true asset to this country. May love and peace go with you on.
Posted by: Christy Smith on March 21, 2010, 5:35 p.m.How do you pronounce Leslie's last name?
Posted by: Rosalba Epps on March 23, 2010, 7:45 a.m.Inmigration laws are very tough and getting more so every day. Although, I came to the States legally, I understand the plight of many people who have not, the many hardships they endure to provide their kids with a better way of life. These kids who work hard to excel in school and who many times also work in the fields to help provide for the family, deserve the chance to live fear free and continue to prove that they are not dependent from the government but have always been and always will be willing to work even harder to be productive citizens. Many anglos wrongly belive that our etnicity automatically make us parias of the State, draining the federal coffers, but reality is that the number of ilegals receiving or obtaining "help" from the government is minimum, when is really those who have been born in America, the ones who have also learn to work the system and live from it without shame. Inmigration Official should really look into the life presedent of the young people they arrest before deciding if deportation is the best course. Our streets all over America are plagued with young people who do not care for anything but to get the free ride the government provides, getting pregnant at a young age so they can claim food stamps, or simply getting involved with drug dealings or gangs producing more violence and crime everyday. These are the people Inmigration should be concentrating on, not those who in reality started being productive in society even before most of the legal kids are even allowed to go out on their on. I pray that our government can really look to this issue and be fair, giving these outstanding young people the chance once the forefathers of this great nation received. Please take a look back into history and see all the oportunities every generation had but also that these opportunities were afforted to them because they were willing to work hard and reach for their dreams!
Posted by: Sissi on March 23, 2010, 10:23 a.m.Is that how life is in the land of opportunities? What a disgrace! I wish you all the best of luck Hug from Portugal