My name is Ivana. I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. My mom is from Venezuela, and my dad is from California. I am ten years old and I am in the fifth grade. I go to a Spanish Catholic church called San Carlos Borromeo. Everyone that goes there is Hispanic/Latino. My mom insists that I go to church to have a sense of community, and also understand their needs and ways to help them. My mom helps teach at one the catechism classes in the building, Su Casa Hispanic Center. I go to a catechism class two stories below. I have been going to the classes for 2 years now. My teacher is a friendly Colombian man, Gilberto, who has a thick accent. I have a diverse class; there are students from Guatemala, but most of them are from Mexico. I can sense their quiet and trembling fear, holding onto a breaking branch. They are afraid their parents will be discovered here, where there are jobs, medicine, and food. They are afraid they will be deported, to the country where their parents are from. No one lets these children talk for themselves. They cannot speak Spanish, they know very little. These children have no clue what their teacher is saying in Spanish, even though their parents enrolled them in these classes. They are afraid of raising their hands, of saying something. They are thinking that every second of their lives there is someone watching them. Now, every time I raise my hand, I am remembering how they are voiceless and scared. They live in the shadows. These students are very wary of what to do when immigration comes and knocks on their door.
There is a man called Isaias in my church. His family is not here legally. His job and his wife’s job have fallen into ashes. Isaias’s son was deported to Mexico in September, when there was a big raid in Fairfield, Ohio. Benito, who was one of my mom’s students, had his older sister deported to Mexico in the same raid at the packaging factory. I never saw him afterwards. The children in my class are smart and have dreams for the future…but what is their future? Their future could be one hour, one day, one month. Now I understand why I need to go there every Sunday. I can be their voice, I can raise my hand for them.