William Lopez
Apr 6, 2018 · 3 min read

The Sounds of Your Three AM Deportation

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What does it sound like, to be deported at three in the morning?

When I walk out of my house, it first sounds like silence. It sounds like a country asleep, unaware that your family is about to be torn apart.

In the car on the way to meet you, it sounds like discussion about what our country has become, how we have arrived at the point of removing a mother of four who has been in the country cleaning our houses and making dinners for her kids for 15 years.

We get to the airport and the silence fades. It starts to get noisy, but it’s not overpowering, not yet.

First it’s the sounds of controlled cries as your children wrap their arms around you.

It’s the tapping of our shoes, as the adrenaline and emotion make our knees shake.

It’s the jingle of your bracelet hitting the studs on your american flag purse, a remnant of the times you believed our country had any shred of decency.

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Then someone else joins the circle of family and advocates, and the sounds of your deportation become rhythmic, the thumping of our hearts in our chests as the ICE agent comes to ask you for the sweaty manilla envelope that has somehow come to represent your humanity.

Your deportation begins to sound like utter hypocrisy, as the ICE agent offers to help you roll the life you have condensed into two suitcases to the ticket counter.

Then he takes you to the counter, and your deportation sounds like an agent who can’t speak your language, who says, welp, I hope she figures out the connecting flight or her voluntary departure will become a deportation and she’ll have no hope of returning.

Then the sound of your deportation starts to get louder.

It sounds like an older daughter trying to catch her breath knowing she has become the mother of two younger sisters.

The controlled tears become loud, body-shaking sobs and you are encircled in a mass of love and pain, and I can hear your wet lips smack against your husband’s five times in a row, wondering if you will ever kiss him again.

Sometimes there’s more silence. Silence and looking down to avoid eye contact as college students are flying to your destination to get tan and party and pretend you don’t exist.

And there are silent nods of the head from brown people in solidarity, one or two coming up to the circle to say how fucked up things are.

And then you go to the security line, and the sounds of your deportation crescendo into the deafening roar of fists raised as you walk through the metal detector, into the scream of your husband waiving goodbye with his Puma cap, and into the symphony of your daughters filming their mother’s removal because they have just been reborn as luchadores, as guerreras, as the next generation of Latinas born into a new era in America where the party of family values systematically takes families apart.

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And then you’re gone. And we are left again in silence, returning to our tears, controlling our sobs, listening for the chime of our phones from the text message that says you’re ok.

William Lopez

Written by

PhD in public health. He/Him. 🌈✊🏽. Talk and write about immigration. Author of “Separated: Family and Community in the Aftermath of an Immigration Raid”

William Lopez

Written by

PhD in public health. He/Him. 🌈✊🏽. Talk and write about immigration. Author of “Separated: Family and Community in the Aftermath of an Immigration Raid”

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