Letter by Yestel Velasquez from South Louisiana Correctional Center, after ICE conducted a sweeping workplace raid in Kenner, Louisiana, based on racial profiling. [UPDATE: Yestel was granted a 1 year stay of removal and released from detention in August. Read more here]
Like many Latino families in the New Orleans area, I came to this city after Hurricane Katrina to help with the reconstruction and build a better future for the city. I am very proud of the work we have done. But now ICE and local police are terrorizing the Latino community. Because of the raids, our families are being broken apart and we are being disappeared. I am writing this letter from jail because ICE raided a Latino auto shop where I happened to be getting my car repaired.
President Obama, I hear that you care about the Latino and immigrant community and want to make things more humane for us. But here in New Orleans, across the South, and all around the country, we are facing the daily inhumanity of being hunted by ICE, torn apart from our families, and disappeared from the communities we helped rebuild. Is this what you want for us? Are we to prepare our families and communities we have worked so hard to build for their destruction?
I came to New Orleans in 2005, a few months after Hurricane Katrina hit the city. I remember that in those days New Orleans felt dead and desolate. There was so much sadness. It seemed like the city would never recover. As a reconstruction worker, I worked in waste removal, cleaning away the debris, mud, and dirt that covered the city. I helped reconstruct schools, homes, and many areas of the city. Read more