By Jorge Steven Acuña
A typical day for a college student usually starts off with the constant snoozing of an alarm clock prior to our first class, but life as we know it doesn't always go as planned. What I thought was supposed to be an ordinary college day, took a turn for the worse on the morning of Wednesday, March 7. It was on that day that I was awoken by several ICE (Immigration and Custom Enforcement) agents, who had raided my house. Many have asked what it felt like at that moment, others asked what my first reaction was. My response to both of those questions is an astounding 'nothing.'
It's an amazing concept to realize how the life you have lived in a land you call home can come crashing down before your eyes as your father is being arrested next to the dinner table; a table that, by its rugged appearance, represents the countless memories of love and joy shared as a family through the 11 years living in the United States. Nothing was felt in those moments when I saw my mother cry before my eyes as she screamed out in anger for what had just happened to the man she has been happily in love with for 20 years. Nothing was said on that two-hour drive to Baltimore's ICE Field Office. Upon arriving to the office, we were told we'd be let out that same night. As humans, we tend to find even the slightest source of hope in every negative situation. The idea that I would be home that night finally made me feel something: hope.
Three sets of fingerprints, countless tears, and two water bottles later, I was in a detention room filled with other detainees. Amongst the men, was my father. I explained to him that we were not criminals and we would not be treated as such. I assured him that I was going to make it to my class later that night and that everything was going to be alright. I told him this because I was hopeful it would be unjust to not let my law-abiding family be free. However, a decision was made that was sent from a superior down to an inferior, past another person into the commands of an officer who walked into the detention room and said, "... you will be going to a jail until you are deported back to your home country."
Nothing is an amazing concept within the realm of human emotions. As humans, we are supposed to feel emotions. We are not objects that can be manipulated as such. However, after that statement, it was back to nothing. Nothing was felt when I was locked up in a maximum-security cell with my father. Nothing was felt as I saw my mother weep before my eyes as she shed every last tear in her loving motherly eyes. Nothing was felt when I woke up at night to hear my father cry. Nothing was felt during the countless apologies from my parents for having to live through this. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.
I didn't feel any emotion during those six days in jail. The gift of emotion came back to my heart when I was free again. Joy and relief was pumped to every part of my body as I was let out with my family on the afternoon of Tuesday, March 13th. I will not mention my experiences in jail those six days; for I am not here to tell you what to expect. Instead, I would like to state that this sort of injustice is inhumane, not only to me, but to those who lived it or those that wake up and go to sleep in fear of living this.
My friends and family had their voices heard. They advocated for me and urged many people with power to make a change. I realize now that far too often we as humans do nothing for the injustices around us. My friends went against all odds and fought for something they believed was unjust. JSA started out symbolizing my initials. Now it represents a new movement--Justice for Students in America.
My promise to everyone reading this blog is that no matter what tomorrow brings, I will fight for justice and advocate for change. Your responsibility as my audience is to take action against the injustices faced in the world's most powerful nation. Register to vote, sign petitions for change, and never be afraid to do something for what you believe in.
Jorge Steven Acuña is a 19-year old Montgomery College student. He and his parents came to the U.S. from Colombia over a decade ago and were denied political asylum. On March 7, 2012, they were detained by ICE agents. Jorge Steven excelled academically and athletically in high school and is one semester away from receiving a degree from Montgomery College, where he holds a 3.5 GPA! He dreams of going to medical school at Johns Hopkins University and is the epitome of everything the DREAM Act stands for. Contact Jorge Steven Acuña at firstname.lastname@example.org.