ELLE: Letter from an 'Imperfect' Immigrant

 
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BY ALEJANDRA PABLOS

For the majority of 2018, Americans watched in horror as mothers were torn from their children at the border after the Trump administration’s family separation policy gained media attention. We saw heart-wrenching images of parents with young children being separated and put in actual cages. But these portrayals also inadvertently reinforced the bias of which undocumented people do and do not deserve protection from the violence. What about those who aren’t the “perfect immigrant”? Those like me.

I am not married. I have chosen not to have children, my sexuality is fluid, I have been arrested, and I am not a Dreamer. I am also highly vocal about systemic injustice and have spent my entire life in the United States with all of my family, including my naturalized citizen parents. I am a woman with a past, a future and experiences to share that I will continue to be outspoken about. My active support of immigrant rights and reproductive justice actually led to my second time being detained at Eloy Detention Center in 2018. And on December 11, 2018, a day I long feared, I was ordered by an immigration judge in my home state of Arizona to be deported to Mexico – a country I have never lived in.

State and federal governments have waged a war on immigrants. Arizona’s sentencing laws are some of the toughest in country, and for two years former Attorney General Jeff Sessions worked relentlessly to make the process even harder for folks who were seeking asylum and nearly impossible for those of us who don’t fit into the administration’s mold (including human rights defenders and women fleeing domestic violence). Because most of the narrative surrounding deportations has been framed around cruel family separations and children being put in cages, those of us who are single adults, who are queer and trans, who speak out against state violence, or who may have already been through the U.S. criminal justice system, have been left out of the conversation. We become the “bad immigrants” that are constantly vilified by the Trump administration and conservative pundits on Fox News.

"THE CURRENT NARRATIVE GIVES THE IMPRESSION THAT THERE ARE GROUPS OF IMMIGRANTS THAT SOMEHOW DESERVE TO BE KIDNAPPED, BRUTALIZED AND DETAINED BY THE GOVERNMENT."

Organizations like Mijente and the Advancement Project national office are working with immigrant communities of color to shed light on this disparity, because the current narrative gives the impression that there are groups of immigrants that somehow deserve to be kidnapped, brutalized and detained by the government. This contributes to the systemic criminalization of Black and Brown migrants, which enforces White supremacy and xenophobia. I've realized, through my own experiences and in hearing the stories of others, that only certain people are allowed to make mistakes: people who are White, male and cis-gender are often given a slap on the wrist for heinous crimes like rape and assault while, Black and Brown people, such as Cyntoia Brown, who was sentenced to life in prison for defending herself, are routinely over-sentenced and underrepresented.

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Separating families is an atrocity that should never happen anywhere, and the value we place on human life should not exclude people like me, who are also being violently targeted and deported. As families and friends start their New Year with a clean slate and fresh resolutions, my family and I have been told I have to leave the only place that I’ve known as home. And I’m not alone. I am one of 45,000 people fighting this fight. We may not be minors. We may not be mothers. We may have even made some mistakes. But our lives are not disposable, and we must challenge injustice on behalf of everyone who is at risk.


Alejandra Pablos is a member of Mijente, social justice organizer, and writer working at the intersection of immigration and reproductive justice. Connect to her work and journey at www.KeepAleFree.org. You can show support and advocate for support and advocating for immigrants like Alejandra through petitions, protests, and pushes for systemic change.

Immigration Court Orders Alejandra Pablos Deported

 
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

CONTACT: Danielle Moodie-Mills, danielle@abpartners.co, 202-445-5210

Tucson, Arizona-- Today a federal immigration court ordered the deportation of nationally known reproductive rights and immigrant rights activist Alejandra Pablos. Pablos, along with Mijente, a national Latinx organization leading on mobilizing against immigration enforcement and criminalization, released the following statement.  

“We are extremely saddened and angered by the Tucson Immigration court’s decision to deport Alejandra. Alejandra is precisely the kind of person we need to push back against the Trump administration - someone who stands up for the rights of her community, her family, and herself. She is a recognized leader in the fight for reproductive rights and immigrant rights - the very reasons her life could be threatened if deported. Her case is also an example of the Trump administration’s efforts to weaken asylum law, and their obsession with deporting as many immigrants as possible,” said Jacinta Gonzalez, leading Mijente’s organizing supporting for Pablo’s case.

“I’ve been living here since I was a baby, and Arizona is the place where I’ve grown up and learned how to fight for our rights. I will continue to fight for my right to stay here, to speak out about my story. This is not the end of our fight; we will appeal this decision and urge Arizona Governor Ducey to issue a pardon for the arrests that led to my detention in the first place. Getting a pardon from the Governor would significantly increase my chances to be able to continue to fight to stop my deportation and allow me to stay home with my family and community,” stated Alejandra Pablos.

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Sign & Share the Petition: A Pardon from Arizona Governor is Ale’s Last Chance to Fight Deportation

Mijente is a political, digital, and grassroots hub for Latinx and Chicanx organizing and movement building. Launched in 2015, Mijente seeks to strengthen and increase the participation of Latina/o people in the broader movements for racial, economic, climate and gender justice.

Immigrant Rights Activist Targeted By Ice Set For Asylum Hearing On Dec. 11

 
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, December 7, 2018

CONTACT: Danielle Moodie-Mills, danielle@abpartners.co, 202-445-5210

  • What: Asylum hearing for Alejandra Pablos

  • Who: Alejandra Pablos, nationally recognized immigrant rights activist and Mijente member

  • When: Tuesday, December 11th, 12:30 pm MST

  • Where: Tucson Immigration Court 300 W Congress St #300, Tucson, AZ 85701

TUCSON, AZ — Nationally recognized immigrant and reproductive rights activist, Alejandra Pablos, is set to appear in federal immigration court in Arizona in her effort to appeal for asylum after being targeted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Pablos was singled out and detained by DHS agents during a peaceful protest outside of DHS offices in Virginia in January 2018, which flagged her case to her case manager in Arizona. She was then taken into custody during her regularly scheduled check in with ICE in Tucson, denied bond, and sent to the Eloy Detention Center for 43 days.

Raised in California and a permanent resident of the US, Pablos is a member of Mijente and worked as the Field Coordinator for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, through which she advocates for immigration reform, reproductive rights and criminal justice reform. She is now requesting asylum given the dangers she would face as an activist deported to Mexico.

Pablos is one of many immigrant rights activists who are now being targeted by ICE to silence dissent by the Trump administration. Other activists targeted and arrested include Ravi Ragbir, a former green card holder from Trinidad and the head of the New Sanctuary Coalition (NSC) in New York City; Jean Montrevil, an immigrant from Haiti who also worked at NSC, deported despite having lived in the US for over three decades with his four US-citizen children; Daniela Vargas, a Mississippi “Dreamer” brought to the US as a child from Argentina, detained minutes after speaking about her experience at a press conference; Maru Mora Villalpando, a high-profile undocumented activist from Mexico; and Baltazar “Rosas” Aburto Gutierrez after he was quoted in The Seattle Times.

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Mijente is a political, digital, and grassroots hub for Latinx and Chicanx organizing and movement building. Launched in 2015, Mijente seeks to strengthen and increase the participation of Latina/o people in the broader movements for racial, economic, climate and gender justice. @conmijente

Alejandra’s Abortion Story

 
 

As a We Testify Storyteller, I am excited to learn from my sisters and I am excited to have support instead of keeping my stories to myself and feeling isolated. I want to de-stigmatize abortions and put shame in its place. Shame is no longer welcomed here.

I tell my story because I do not want to stay in the dark any longer. There is an incredible amount of stigma, lies, myths out there about abortions, and I see no justice in that. Immigrant women are not just here to have anchor babies, we are not just here to have a lot of babies and live off of public services. Some of us want to wait to start families, and some of us love focusing on our careers, and some of us do not even want to become a parent. Latinas are not solely “calientes”, nor irresponsible. I chose an abortion because comprehensive sex education wasn’t a thing. I made this choice because I did not want to be a parent.

The decisions we make are supported by our very own lived experiences. Trust us. I know that when a mom is separated from her daughter, whether it is a country that separates them or an immigration prison, you might as well rip her heart out. I know this because my mother had to suffer through our separation once. I was detained in an immigration prison for two years, and my mom and my family visited every weekend. We do not deserve that punishment. At the moment, in this society, you can say my choice of creating a family was made for me anyway. It is not fit for a child to come into a world that locks people away for decades and profits off of their bodies, or a world that lets brown people die of preventable diseases simply because they are poor. I want people to know that there are other dreams I have. I have dreams of legalizing all of my people, the 11 million, especially the criminalized. I have dreams of abolishing police and prisons so that I won’t be afraid for my people and my loved ones. I have dreams of eliminating borders so that all my people can migrate freely and live the healthy, full lives they are destined to live.