On our weekly Office Hours call today, we had the privilege of hearing the story of Marisela, a woman from northern Ohio who will be leading next week’s 20-mile pilgrimage to the Church of St. Casimir in Cleveland, to pray for relief for Ricardo Ramos and other immigrants.
Marisela had never told her family’s story in public before, because it is too painful. Despite this, she found the courage to take her lunch break from the factory CQ to speak to reporters from around the country, with the assistance of Veronica Dahlberg, executive director of HOLA Ohio. The two women showed immense courage in speaking about such personal tragedies to the press, in the hopes that, as Dahlberg put it, the “humanitarian crisis” their community and others around the country are now facing will puncture the “bubble” in which Congress appears to live when it comes to the human cost of House inaction on immigration reform.
Marisela came to the United States 25 years ago with her husband and family. She, her husband and their three children made a life in the U.S. “My husband was the best person in my life. Nobody ever had any problems with us. He was a good man.”
Two years ago, her husband and brother were deported after a routine traffic stop. After some time, they attempted to return to their homes and families. They walked over 40 miles in the desert, but ultimately succumbed to the elements. Both men died of heat exposure and dehydration.
Even now, the loss of Marisela’s husband is almost too much for her to bear. “I feel so dead in my life, by myself,” she told reporters on the call. “This is not my dream in the US. This is my nightmare.”
Marisela’s brother’s remains were finally identified in May of this past year—long after his death. The remains were sent to his family in Ohio to be buried. As Veronica Dahlberg said, “They allowed his remains to come into the United States, but not him.” Between both men, six children were left fatherless.
To cope with the grief of her experience, Marisela became a marathon runner. The skill and endurance she has acquired, as well as her own experience, makes her the perfect person to lead next week’s 20-mile march. She is marching in the hopes of saving the Ramos family and others from the fate her family has suffered. As she said on today’s call, “We have to fix…something that broke my heart.”
Listen to Marisela’s story here (begins at 14:30) and tune back on Monday for our coverage of the Ohio pilgrimage.