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Austin, TX – In an opinion piece published in the Houston Chronicle over the weekend, young immigrant Dennis Rivera detailed his two-month Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention after his high school’s police force turned him over to sheriff’s deputies, who then turned him over to ICE.
Rivera’s piece comes at a time when ICE and its rogue agents have come under severe scrutiny for its enforcement tactics that have terrorized immigrants since its inception, but especially during the last two years under the Trump administration.
Below is an excerpt from the Houston Chronicle editorial from Denis Rivera piece. Find the story in its entirety here.
Guards shuffled me through the damp, icy air of a February morning, my hands and legs in shackles. I stepped from the cold air onto a bus filled with people sitting in frigid darkness. I sat, dropped my head and began to cry.
I had gone in less than 24 hours from high school soccer player to incarcerated immigrant. It started with my school’s police force turning me over to Harris County Sheriff’s deputies. They took me to jail, gave my information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and then, instead of releasing me after I’d paid bail, they held me until ICE agents came for me.
Like many other Houston high school seniors, I had been busy with sports, college applications and spending time with friends and family. Except there is one thing different about me. I don’t have “papers.”
Being undocumented has challenges for young people. I used to feel that school was pointless because I thought I couldn’t go to college. Playing soccer was the only thing that made me keep going. Learning students without papers could go to college changed my life overnight.
But as I sat on that bus, I trembled, believing my dream of going to college was over. Even worse, I thought I was going to be sent away and lose my family forever, all at the hands of people I had been taught to avoid since I first understood the words la migra — the ICE agents who now had me in their custody. I knew them as the ones who take people from my community send them to places like Honduras, the country where my father was murdered. The place we had traveled for months to escape.
Sitting captive on that bus, my thoughts were of survival. My tears poured for all that I was losing, for all the uncertainty and for the fear that I would be deported to Honduras.
Immigrant communities and their allies across the United States are calling for ICE to be abolished. The agency is destroying our communities, taking our friends and loved ones from us, brutalizing our neighbors and family members and sending them to face violence abroad. The world has seen what happens when a government agency is given endless resources. We have seen what they do to children and families.
After two months in detention, countless calls to local officials and thousands of petition signatures, I was reunited with my family while my case for asylum continues to play out in court. Since then, I have been able to catch up with my school work, I graduated high school and accepted admission to a university where I will study computer science. I have also joined other undocumented immigrant youth in United We Dream’s Summer of Dreams program for voter education and leadership development.