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.

Abortion funds denounce dehumanizing immigration practices

 
NNAF-immigrantjustice-500Artboard-2-768x768.png
 

[Excerpt]

When undocumented people are under attack in the United States, we are all under attack. None of us can afford to wait in silence for the fury to pass, especially our legislators, who are responsible for both hearing and responding to us. We are not asking legislators merely to undo the latest most heinous tactics because we recognize this moment is built on a gradual escalation. Both ICE and U.S. immigration policy have a long history of oppression, dehumanizing, and criminalization, and our legislators must take action to end these policies and practices immediately. These atrocities against immigrant children and families will never be forgotten, and echo ruthless, xenophobic and racist events in U.S. history that should never be repeated.

As we bear witness to the horrors of our endlessly brutal and worsening immigration fallout, abortion funds and We Testify abortion storytellers are speaking out because we know first hand that people who are already struggling to navigate difficult governmental bureaucracy are in a vulnerable position.

Alejandra Pablos, We Testify abortion storyteller:

“After spending over 40 days in a private immigration jail in Eloy, Arizona for the second time in my life, I can tell you that there is no jail fit for families and people. There is no humane way to incarcerate people in a for profit system. This system has shown us that we don’t have autonomy over our bodies, and they continue to separate us from our communities. Due to my immigration status, I have been forced to make decisions out of fear of being separated, the fear that many of us deal with every day and families who did decide to give birth are still living in. This government is trying to attack us on all sides by taking away abortion care, access, education, and by incarcerating families and people indefinitely seeking asylum and a better life. If we care about families, we need to pay attention to the criminalization and profiting of our people by our own government. We are not safe while people are in jails indefinitely.”

Being At Eloy Detention Center

 
Screen-Shot-2018-06-05-at-9.02.58-AM.png
 

March 7, 2018

“You told me you wouldn’t go back, I don’t have another two years to give them.”

This is what my mamí told me, crying, after I told her that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) confirmed they would be re-detaining me at my check-in that morning. I had already been detained at Eloy Detention Center for two years, 2011-13! I began to prepare to fight for my freedom. I texted my sister-in-law to buy me warm tights and long socks because it gets really cold in the small rooms they put us in, that’s why they are called ice boxes or hieleras. The moments before walking into the ICE office were very tough and emotionally heavy. My future was blurry, but my choice was clear: I had to take a step that would also turn out to be very powerful for me. I showed them I wasn’t afraid and that my only intentions are to stay here, where my home is, home is where my loved ones are. Last thing I remember is my sister whispering in my ear, “you are the strongest person I know.” And at that moment I knew that I had to be.

January 10, 2018

I was arrested by a DHS (Department of Homeland Security) police officer at a community protest against ICE in Virginia. There were about 30-40 of us there, one microphone, one legal observer, and many banners with our messages to the ICE agents and their horrible treatment. We were exercising our first amendment right. Members of the protest took turns on the mic as we waited for Chesterfield police, who had jurisdiction, to ask us to leave.

Out of nowhere, the DHS officer charged towards me. It was chaotic, I couldn’t hear much, everyone was yelling, I was confused. I was thinking Like, “why is he grabbing me, you can’t just take me.” He finally handcuffed me. My knees were bloody, two of my nails broke, my arm was sore from being twisted. I was in total shock. How can they arrest me for exercising my right?

March 8- April 19th, 2018

The 42 days in Eloy Detention Center will be days that I will never forget. I received worn underwear, worn out shoes, and a baggy with soap, lotion pack, toothpaste, and toothbrush. I began to notice that Eloy detention center was different from my prior days, in an alarming way. Not once did I get to see the warden in our building making his routine checks on us, I never got an opportunity o speak to him about my concerns. I had no access to ICE staff or supervisors to inform them of any complaints. There were no request forms for ICE, only forms to ask about your case. Forms are the only way one can voice their situations and for us to document it. This meant CoreCivic can get away with a lot since there was no way of holding anyone accountable.

There was no longer a decent process to be seen by healthcare providers. People are forced to be up and ready by 5 am to go to “sick call” and make an appointment to see a nurse. My roommate had arrived at Eloy Detention Center in pain because of a tooth extraction she had before being detained. They refused to give her the same pain and antibiotics she was on, therefore, she began to get constipated. I remember my roommate being super scared. She developed hemorrhoids and was bleeding a lot out of her rectum. One day, around 4:30 pm she was crying because the pain was unbearable. I interpreted for her to the officer and the officer asked her “if she went to sick call in the morning and if she has been drinking water.” Since my roommate didn’t go to sick call that day, she had to wait to go the following morning. She cried herself to sleep that night still in pain. That is not a way to treat people, there’s no humanity behind bars. There is no respect or dignity in there for us. Our bodies are not given the benefit of the doubt, they are treated as enemies and threats.

But let’s get one thing clear, there are no enemies in there. There are mothers and sisters who have survived domestic violence, drug abuse, poverty, and much more. There are no threats there, there are only hard-working people seeking safety and prosperity. The for-profit detention center provides poor food and living conditions, no educational or support programs, and it is a hostile environment for people who should be with their loved ones and not torn apart. And this is why I won’t be silenced, and I will keep fighting to abolish detentions and prisons until we are all free.

TRANSLATION IN SPANISH:

7 de marzo de 2018

“Me dijiste que no volverías, no tengo otros dos años para darles”.

Esto es lo que me dijo mi mami, llorando, después de que le dije que ICE (Servicio de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas) confirmó que me retendrían en mi “check in” esa mañana. ¡Ya había estado detenido en el Centro de Detención Eloy durante dos años, 2011-13! Comencé a prepararme para luchar por mi libertad. Envié un mensaje de texto a mi cuñada para que me comprara medias calientes y calcetines largos porque hace mucho frío en las habitaciones pequeñas en las que nos ponen, por eso se llaman cajas de hielo o hieleras. Los momentos antes de caminar dentro de la oficina de ICE fueron muy duros y emocionalmente pesados. Mi futuro estaba borroso, pero mi decisión fue clara. Tenía que dar un paso que también sería muy poderoso para mí. Les mostré que no tenía miedo y que mis únicas intenciones son quedarme aquí, donde está mi hogar, el hogar es donde están mis seres queridos. Lo último que recuerdo es que mi hermana me susurraba al oído: “eres la persona más fuerte que conozco”. Y en ese momento supe que tenía que serlo.

10 de enero de 2018

Fui arrestado por un oficial de policía del DHS (Departamento de Seguridad Nacional) en una protesta comunitaria contra ICE en Virginia. Había alrededor de 30-40 de nosotros, un micrófono, un observador legal y muchas pancartas con nuestros mensajes a los agentes de ICE sobre su horrible trato. Estábamos ejerciendo nuestra primera enmienda. Los miembros de la protesta se turnaron en el micrófono mientras esperábamos que la policía de Chesterfield, que tenía jurisdicción, nos pidiera que nos fuéramos.

De la nada, el oficial del DHS cargó contra mí. Era caótico, no podía escuchar mucho, todos gritaban, estaba confundida. Estaba pensando “¿Por qué me está agarrando? No puedes llevarme”. Finalmente me esposó. Mis rodillas estaban ensangrentadas, me quebró dos uñas, tenía el brazo dolorido por haber sido retorcido. Estaba en estado de shock total. ¿Cómo pueden arrestarme por ejercer mi derecho?

8 de marzo al 19 de abril

Los 42 días en el Centro de Detención Eloy serán días que nunca olvidaré. Recibí ropa interior gastada, zapatos gastados y una bolsa con jabón, paquete de loción, pasta de dientes y cepillo de dientes. Comencé a notar que el centro de detención de Eloy era diferente de mis días anteriores, de una manera alarmante. Ni una sola vez pude ver al guardián de la prisión haciendo sus controles de rutina con nosotros, nunca tuve la oportunidad de hablar con él sobre mis preocupaciones. No tuve acceso al personal o supervisores de ICE para informarles de cualquier queja. No hubo formularios de solicitud de ICE, solo formularios para preguntar sobre su caso. Los formularios son la única forma en que uno puede expresar sus situaciones y documentarlas. Esto significaba que CoreCivic podía salirse con la suya de tratarnos de cualquier manera, ya que no había forma de responsabilizar a nadie.

Ya no había un proceso decente para ser visto por los proveedores de servicios de salud. Las personas se ven obligadas a levantarse y estar listas a más tardar a las 5 a.m. para ir a la “llamada por enfermedad” y programar una cita para ver a una enfermera. Mi compañera de cuarto había llegado al Centro de Eloy con dolor debido a una extracción de dientes que tenía antes de ser detenida. Se negaron a darle la misma medicina para el dolor, por lo tanto, comenzó a estreñirse. Recuerdo que mi compañera de cuarto estaba muy asustada. Desarrolló hemorroides y sangraba mucho por el recto. Un día, alrededor de las 4:30 pm, ella estaba llorando porque el dolor era insoportable. La interpreté para el oficial y el oficial le preguntó “si fue a la llamada de enfermedad por la mañana y si ha estado bebiendo agua”. Como mi compañera de habitación no fue a la llamada de enfermedad ese día, tuvo que esperar para irse la mañana siguiente. Ella lloró hasta que se durmió esa noche todavía dolorida. Esa no es una forma de tratar a las personas, no hay una humanidad tras las rejas. No hay respeto o dignidad allí para nosotros. Nuestros cuerpos no reciben el beneficio de la duda, son tratados como enemigos y amenazas.

Pero aclaremos una cosa: no hay enemigos allí. Hay madres y hermanas que han sobrevivido a la violencia doméstica, el abuso de drogas, la pobreza y mucho más. No hay amenazas allí, solo hay personas trabajadoras que buscan seguridad y prosperidad. El centro de detención con fines de lucro brinda condiciones alimentarias y de vida deficientes, no cuenta con programas educativos o de apoyo, y es un ambiente hostil para las personas que deberían estar con sus seres queridos. Y esta es la razón por la cual no me silenciarán, y seguiré luchando para abolir las detenciones y las cárceles, hasta que todos seamos libres.