Dear First Lady Michelle Obama,
It is an honor to write this simple yet meaningful letter to you. Not only are you the First Lady, but you are the first First Lady of color. My name is Lisette Lucas; I am an undocumented queer single mother living in the state of California. As a teen mother I had to grow up really fast and learn the responsibility of being a mom. On top of that came the realization that I am undocumented. There is a lot more to that than the lack of a social security number. The health of our children, including LGBTQ sons and daughters, is also at risk. And family separation is the most traumatic thing all undocumented families go through –not just mine.
As a single mother who is LGBTQ and undocumented, I am writing to you, mother to mother, to ask you to urge ICE to release four LGBTQ sons and daughters currently detained at the Otay Detention Center in San Diego, CA. Their names are four LGBTQ sons and daughters currently detained at the Otay Detention Center. Their names are Yordy Cancino, Edgar Alejandro Aldana Viramontes, Valeria De La Luz-Ramos, and Felipe Molina de Jesus. Each one of these LGBTQ community members have previously made a life in the United States and helped build this nation. Last month, they took the courageous decision of presenting themselves at the border to request asylum or humanitarian parole. All they want is to reunite with their families and communities.
Edgar Alejandro Aldana Viramontes also known as Alex, a mentor of mine, has been detained for more than four weeks now. His leadership and great guidance helped me and other LGBTQ youth in the San Francisco Bay Area learn that we can all become courageous leaders in the United States of America. Alex started organizing with his community after realizing how hard the struggle of being undocumented really is. The pain of seeing his mother working her heart out while going through domestic violence opened a door to Alex’s strength inside. Just like Alex’s mom I know what it feels like to provide for your family no matter the circumstances. And just like you, I know the unconditional and unapologetic love that we have for our families and the meaning of keeping our families together against all odds.
Sadly, Laura Viramontes, Alex’s mom, cannot sleep at night and prays for all mothers together to shine light on granting the release of her gay son from ICE detention. She recently said: “Even though my son’s credible fear was recently approved, he remains detained. And I cannot feel relieved until he and the rest of the gay sons and trans daughters in detention are released. Their mothers are suffering just like me. I believe in you, Mrs. Obama; you can help us.”
Alex’s mom also said, “My son is a great person. He has done so much for his communities. He has helped many organizations with HIV prevention, educating youth, and immigrant rights work. I don’t understand why the U.S. government would turn its back on him. This is and has always been his home, the only home he knows; California is where his family and communities reside.”
Just like Alex, LGBTQ youth Yordy Cancino has been suffering in ICE detention. Yordy’s mom, Griselda Cancino, is another single mother who is a survivor of domestic violence and a shero to her three children. All of her hardworking efforts have been dedicated to the education of her children and because of all the sacrifices she has made, Yordy took his education extremely seriously. Yordy graduated with honors (4.2 GPA) and served as the President of the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club in his high school in Los Angeles because he has always believed in fighting for justice and making this country a better nation for all.
While in California as a student leader, Yordy regularly spoke out for LGBTQ rights and supported women’s rights, but he was unable to attend college or attain a job. Feeling out of options and depressed, he returned to Mexico to continue his studies. However, he faced pervasive violence and cruelty for being gay.
“I believe Yordy is destined to be someone great in this country. Mrs. Obama, please put yourself in my shoes as a mother,” Griselda Cancino says. “I beg you to intervene and call ICE to stop retaliating against my son and release him from detention. Try to comprehend my suffering. He has been detained for longer than a month! My son calls me and tells me that he cannot tell me all the injustice that is happening inside the detention center. His court date was moved from Friday to Monday, and today for the second time in a row he was told that the court hearing system was down and his file was lost. There are major discrepancies targeting and affecting LGBTQ immigrants whose communities are organized for family unity, and all my son wants to do is to resume his life in the country that he has called home since he was a child. I ask for your immediate help and power as the First Lady of the United States of America. Free Yordy, Alex, and all undocumented LGBTQ sons and daughters who are currently detained at Otay Detention Center. Do not let ICE keep them in the shadows. Do not let ICE deport them. The U.S. is their home. Yes, we can free them!,” she added.
I ask you to please help Griselda Cancino, Laura Viramontes, and yours truly to release Yordy, Alex, Valeria, and Felipe, so they can come home and keep enjoying precious moments with their mothers, communities of color, and their LGBTQ communities.We call on you to urge your husband President Barack Obama to take action and bring relief to our families. Bring Yordy Cancino [A#206-273-497], Edgar Alejandro Aldana Viramontes [A#206-498-268], Valeria De La Luz-Ramos [A#206-498-269], and Felipe Molina de Jesus [A#206-252-347] home.
Our families are sacred and they should always stay together. You are our First Lady, please help us and make that call to our current administration and ICE to grant prosecutorial discretion in their cases so they can be released and continue contributing to the fabric of our society.
Your fellow mother,