mom’s in detention.” I wasn’t going to do it, but there was one night my mom was so depressed and so demoralized that I just wrote something up and spoke at that May Day event. I started getting more involved in detention center issues, developing my consciousness about what this means, not just for me and my family, but for the larger community. I was born in San Antonio and grew up in the East Side. My mom had migrated from Mexico and became a permanent resident. With her working from 4 in the afternoon to 6 in the morning, it made it easy for my brother and me to hit the streets, and for a time I would skip school. Then I dropped out. It seemed like it was relatively normal everyone in my neighborhood had dropped out of school. My friends had dropped out around seventh grade, one in sixth grade. Eventually I went back, graduated from community college, and worked really hard to get into college. Everything I do, I do for my mother. I may not have recognized it back then, but I want to make sure I don’t take for granted everything she has done for us. It’s hard to talk to people about my mom’s case because my mom is what the government would call a criminal alien. She was charged with transporting undocumented immigrants. She gave a group of folks in San Antonio a ride and got into a wreck in New Braunfels. The police officer who came to investigate asked everybody for their documents. She was charged with two misdemeanors and sentenced to four months in prison. After the four months, we went to pick her up and learned that she wasn’t going to be free because ICE had taken custody of her. We felt that we had a good case because there was evidence to prove that my mom was not intentionally transporting undocumented aliens; we scrambled for a lawyer. My mom was in the Houston processing center for 18 months. I not only had to take care of my siblings, I had to ensure that she had some sort of monthly income to buy toiletries, telephone cards to talk to us. Everything is sold at this private company. The only thing they would not sell to detainees was toilet paperand even that was rationed sometimes. She’s now in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. As soon as we knew she got deported, we went to visit her there. One of the hardest decisions for me to make was, should I drop out of school? I hadn’t physically touched my mom for almost two years. She was like, “No, you have to finish school; it’s almost over. After the semester you can come and vise But the kids were thinking the same thing. I came back to school and left them there with my mom. They were there for a week when she called to ask me how I felt about taking them back. We had Jesse Salmeron 30 THE TEXAS OBSERVER APRIL 20, 2007
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