Your hug gave me strength
Note from Jane: Elisabeth wrote me this letter after I attended her court hearing, held in the Batavia detention center, on January 21, 2020. It was the only time we have been able to actually, physically, hug each other. Elisabeth had lost her initial request for a withholding of deportation (basically, a claim for political asylum), and her lawyer appealed that denial. The Board of Immigration Appeals then upheld the judge's denial on all but one ground--the Convention Against Torture--and sent the case back (to the same judge) to re-consider whether Elisabeth's situation in El Salvador qualified her for sanctuary under CAT. On January 21, the judge-without even explaining herself--again ruled against Elisabeth.
January 25, 2020
Hi! Mama Juanita. I hope this letter finds you well, surrounded by your beautiful family.
Thank you so much for coming to my court date. What a pity that they are not going to give me the chance to leave this place and demonstrate that I am a good girl and that I only dream of obtaining my liberty, working, and moving forward even though I do not have the support of my family. But I am so grateful to God that he gave me an adoptive mama. I am determined to keep struggling, to appeal my case so that I can stay in this country. The hug that you gave me gave me more strength to keep struggling. I hope you don’t mind that I call you mama. If that makes you uncomfortable, tell me, OK?
If you want to write my story, that seems good to me. You just tell me where to begin . Oops, excuse me, this pen is not working well. The truth is that I do not have enough pretty words for you, mama!
Congratulations—today you spoke Spanish very well. And I did not like it that you said you are old. You are very young, OK? I would also like to know more about you. I do not know if you want to share more about yourself, your family, but I would like to know, if you do want to.
I told my lawyer that when I leave this place, I want to stay with you and I promise to conduct myself well. If God does let me leave this place, I would like to know if your husband and your son are ok with having a stranger live with you all because I don’t want to make you uncomfortable. And if I don’t stay with you, that’s ok, I did everything I could to stay here. I’ve put up with so many things and now I feel very defeated in this struggle for my life. Still, I know that that are people who believe in me, like you, my mama, thank you for caring about me, and thank you for looking for help for me.