An 11-year-old Florida girl whose mother was deported under President Trump read a blistering letter directed at him during the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night. It’s been two years since Estela Juarez’s mother, Alejandra, had to leave the United States, where she’d lived for over 20 years.
In a two-minute video that aired during the DNC, Estela told her family’s story: Her mom arrived in the U.S. as a teen, worked hard and paid taxes, and married her father, Temo Juarez, a naturalized citizen who served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Estela said her dad voted for Mr. Trump in 2016 because he thought he would protect military families. Now, he won’t vote for him again, said Estela.
“Instead of protecting us, you tore our world apart,” she said.
“Now my mom is gone and she’s been taken for no reason at all,” she added. “Every day that passes you deport more moms and dads, and take them away from kids like me.”
“Mr. President, my mom is the wife of a proud American Marine, and a mother of two American children,” she said. “We are American families. We need a president who will bring people together, not tear them apart.”
Estela’s parents raised her and her 18-year-old sister Pamela in the central Florida town of Davenport until a 2013 traffic stop exposed her mother’s legal status. Under the Obama administration, she was considered a low-priority deportation case and would have to check in twice a year with U.S. Immigration and Customs officials, which typically went after higher-priority targets like people with criminal records.
That changed under President Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy and she was ordered to go back to Mexico. She decided to “self-deport” and return to Mexico on her own rather than turn herself in to be detained and then deported.
Alejandra Juarez explained in a blog post in June that despite being married to a citizen, she could not stay in the country because of an immigration law signed during the Clinton administration. Her case was featured in the Netflix documentary series, “Living Undocumented.”
She reacted to Estela’s speech on her Facebook page: “So proud of my daughter Estela,” she wrote. “My daughter Estela called me right after her video was aired and said ‘mom you are coming home, I know you are.'”
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