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I read an article in the Los Angeles Times online today. I thought about posting it but it is something that happens quite often so I will just summarize it. The article was about an ICE raid of a house in an area of Los Angeles. Sixty-one people were detained by immigration. The reason the house was raided was because it was believed that there was an immigration smuggling ring that was based off there.

According to the article the conditions of the house were horrible. Crammed. And food was not easy to find. Human excrement could be found around the house. The women claimed that there had been some sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is something a lot of women do expect when crossing the border. I saw a documentary that talked about how some women do get on birth control. At the house there were also three toddlers and some teenage kids.

As I read this, I remember the stories of my grandfather being dropped at a house told that he could not leave until someone came to pay for him. That was a long time ago even before I was born.
I remember the story of my dad being told to stay low to the ground as he ran an area the size of a football field, not to score a touchdown, but to reach the promise land.
I think about my friend who almost died on a truck at the mercy of whoever was driving.
I think about the three brothers whose life ended when the car they were in swent off a cliff because it was in a high speed pursuit that involved the INS.
I think about all the nameless bodies found at in the dessert. The children that wait forever for their dads to come home. The grandmothers that have to raise entire families while mothers leave in search of money to feed them all.
It seems as though the drama of crossing is just preparation, a taste of what is to come. It is training for becoming a shadow; for becoming sub human, for being broken into lowering your gaze and doing the work for less than minimum wage. The people having to live with human excrement. Sixty in a house. Being denied basic human needs like food and having to endure sexual abuse. A passage way to subhumaness.

These people go through all this to find the promised land. I personally believe they are hugely disappointed when they get there, but I do not actually know. All I know is that the promise land is a place where they have to live underground in fear that they might get caught and then have to leave. They have to find a fake identity to work for a wage that may or may not be enough to sustain themselves.
Dreams of home may often come but they have to ignore them. One of my favorite lines from a song goes: “mojado sabe a tristesa la verdad de ver un freeway y sonar con la verenda que conduce hasta tu casa” it is not easy to translate so I will not. But it basically says that it is sad to see a freeway and dream of the road that takes you home. I know that at least some people feel that way including my parents. But they have to supress their dreams.
They have to live in a country where their work is necessary but their presence in not valued. Where their culture can seem exotic and even a good cause for yearly celebration but the people are ignored. Constantly fearing that one day they will be picked up and sent to their country. Where their children grow up not really belonging anywhere. Maybe having to deal with living in a home where both parents have to work two shifts in order just to make ends meet. And their Spanish is not proper to use at school unless it is Spanish that comes from Spain. The kids are often aware that if ICE picks up their parents they are supposed to not panic and keep on surviving in the United States.
Parents have to make a choice between dying in their homeland or surviving in this land as second class citizens and having to go through the border is just practice for what is to come


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