By Sandra de Anda
Immigration authorities deported Carlsbad resident Gaston Cazares, a father of two children, two weeks ago after having lived in the San Diego area for almost 30 years. Undocumedia profiled his private life in a series of videos released weeks before the deportation. Cazares cuts his autistic son Ivan's hair, sits in a living room with the company of loved ones, and enjoys an otherwise normal life in a place that's long since become home.
Cazares is considered by other media outlets, even some of his supporters themselves, as a the quintessential "good immigrant." He hasn't committed any crimes, save for a lone illegal entry misdemeanor he copped to after la migra found him providing false information in order to work. Cazares' case confronts us with the reality that Immigration and Customs Enforcement's only criteria for deportation in these Trump times is being undocumented.
With the recent rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, better known as DACA, even those who the previous Obama Administration deemed as "good immigrants" because of clean criminal records and successful career paths, are now in the same pool as everybody else. Trump and his ICE affiliates don't see tiers or degrees of separation. Everyone who is undocumented is subject to deportation no matter what life they'd be ripped apart from here.
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Orange County Immigrant Youth United responds to this reality by saying we are a community of 11 million and we, too, don't see degrees of separation among us. "We are all Gaston" became the chant for supporters in the Cazares case. And because "We are all Gaston" a lot of us in the immigrant community could find ourselves in his situation. For many, a deportation is equatable to death. Once a person is separated from their families and the surroundings they've kept, they've been stripped of all the things that keep them safe and alive.
In an interview with Undocumedia, Cazares mentions that he knows nobody on the other side of the border. He's one of three million lives that Trump promised his xenophobic base would be sent back early on in his presidency. Trump is showing his powers to deport, but we, as a community, have the power to fight back and even reunite families. The Trump regime fails to see that there are people who care about our deported loved ones. Their roots remain here. We are those roots.
With Cazares adjusting to life in Tijuana, Mexico, our communities are responding by crowd sourcing to help cover cost of living expenses for a family now bereft of their breadwinner. Together, we've raised $14,000 already and those numbers can be even greater with your generous solidarity.