I’m starting a new semester at college this week. But while my friends are excited to go back to school, I am worried about how I will pay for tuition and other school expenses. More than this, I worry about possibly facing deportation. Especially after our family recently received threats of being reported to Immigration Custom Enforcement (ICE) agents, I had sleepless nights and constant nightmares of being deported.
I will never forget about one particular nightmare. Unlike other ones, I remember every single detail. Maybe it was too dramatic or too close to reality to forget.
Somewhere in a dark room, an ICE agent shouted, “Kids, show me some identification!” The agent aimed the rifle in his hand directly at me. While I hesitated, other students quickly stood up and showed him their identification cards. When it was my turn, I began to panic. All of a sudden, one of remaining students screamed out loud as he tried to run away from the ICE agents. From that moment, the ICE agents began shooting in every direction as dozens of students were screaming and crying, desperately looking for ways to escape from the open fire. In the midst of chaos, I ran across the room and I jumped through the window.
The street was dark and empty. I didn’t know where I was going, but I just ran straight ahead. Soon after, I heard the sound of footsteps behind me. When I turned around, I saw three ICE agents chasing and closing in on me. Eyes wide open and heart pounding rapidly, my entire body began to shake and my legs were freezing up, but I kept running. I dared not look back nor stop.
To catch my breath, I went inside a building under construction. As I crouched in a corner to hide, I remained quiet. But it wasn’t long until I heard the sound of familiar footsteps. As the sound got louder, I became more and more terrified. I took a deep breath and held onto it. A few minutes later, however, ICE agents found me. With smiles on their faces, they were mocking my vulnerability. I tried to run away from them, but knowing that I couldn’t escape from the ICE agents, my body shut down. At the very moment when they tried to handcuff me, I woke up in horror.
Once I realized it was all just a nightmare, I was relieved. For me, the fear is still just that, a fear. But for dreamers like Pedro Gutierrez, who are facing deportation, the urgency is tremendous. How many lives are replaced by waking nightmares every day?
Photo Credits: Detention Watch Network