They Need Their Daddy
A family divided by deportations as the Trump Administration steps up enforcement.
Senaida Rivera was enjoying a night out with her mom’s side of the family and three siblings before their worst nightmare came to life, which was one of her brother’s getting deported out of the country, leaving his wife and two kids behind.
On February 9, 2017, Senaida’s older brother, Gabriel, was going to work that early morning for his 7 a.m shift. It was a regular morning day, until he crossed paths with people in uniform waiting for him outside his house. Shortly there after, he was detained and deported by the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), wearing jackets that said “Police” on the back. By 7 p.m., he was already in Tijuana, Mexico.
Senaida Rivera is a 21-year-old college sophmore, who currently attends Pierce College. She is the youngest of her three siblings (they’re four all together), and is also the only U.S citizen from her family of six (both parents and 3 siblings) who were all born in Mexico. Senaida’s brother, Gabriel, lives in Los Angeles, CA, where there are about 1 million estimated undocumented residents, according to The Mercury News. Only New York receiving the highest number, at an estimated 1.2 million.
Gabriel Rivera (40) has been living in the U.S for more than twenty years as an illegal immigrant. Senaida said crying, “That’s all he had, nothing else.”
According to ice.gov, Gabriel would be considered a convicted criminal under ICE interior removal. Statistics show that 92% of ICE removals initiated in the interior of the country, were of convicted criminals. This shows the very small percentage Gabriel had in avoiding deportation.
In 2016, ICE, conducted 65,332 removals of individuals apprehended by ICE officers (i.e., interior removals), and 60,318 of them (92 percent) of all interior removals were previously convicted of a crime, which defines Gabriel Rivera’s situation.
“I didn’t really pay attention to the news or believe that it was true, you don’t really care about a certain situation until it hits home,” Senaida said. “I believe that it is unfair because he made his life here and he’s being punished over something that he did 20 years ago.”
Senaida and her family haven’t seen Gabriel for almost three months now since they took him February 9th.
Since Trump took office, immigrant communities have been plagued by rumors — some true, many false. Recent targeted operations by ICE have resulted in hundreds of arrests. Such operations were common during the Obama administration but have garnered new scrutiny in recent months.
More than 9 million people appear to live in “mixed-status” families with an undocumented adult and at least one U.S.-born child, according to the Pew Research Center. As of 2014, Pew estimated, 66 percent of undocumented adults had been in the United States for more than 10 years — enough time to form families.
David L. Moguel, from the Department of Secondary Education at California State University Northridge, explains how students are suffering from having a “mixed status” family, “U.S born children are being left behind without their parents after deportations increase.”
Aileen Rivera, Gabriel’s wife had some things to say as well about how it has affected their family negatively. “It’s been a huge strain on our family,” Aileen said. “I miss him, I miss talking to him and seeing him with his children, they need their daddy.”
“The threat of deportation has caused many Hispanics to worry about their legal status,” Moguel said. “They are being split from their family members on a daily basis, assuming close to 90 percent being deported and around 50 percent are worried.”
“I am a U.S born child and the fact that I should be fully happy and comfortable that I don’t have to worry about getting deported to another country, I am still stressing,” Senaida said. “I fear being in a mixed status family, many relatives from my family, my friends, all who are illegal immigrants, can get deported at any time, expected or unexpected, it can very well happen and it is like a nightmare.”
Senaida was very emotional, and till this day, she still cries for her brother to come back, but she knows she needs to be strong, not only for herself, but for her both parents, sister-in-law, and nephews. “I need to be strong, especially in a situation like this where my mom and dad are very vulnerable and emotional, I will help support those that are in the same situation as I am,” Senaida said. “I hope those that have the power to change this, do it fast.”