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Deporting Love: A Married Couple’s Journey to Stay in the United States

On November 28, 2005, Enrique Gonzalez walked across the border to pursue a safe and prosperous life in the U.S. Afraid of gang recruitment in El Salvador and seeking to escape to a safe place with opportunities to work to help himself and his family, after two days of processing and detention, he was taken (by immigration officials) to a Texas bus station where he was left to find his way in what would become his new home, the United States of America. Thirteen years later, with a U.S. Immigration approved marriage to a citizen, Enrique is being deported.

In the January 2017 Executive Order, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, the Trump administration laid out a much wider dragnet authorizing and empowering ICE in the deportation of undocumented.  Unlike the discretion of the Obama Administration, as evidenced in the 2011 Memo, which exercised a great deal of flexibility the Trump Administration's laser-sharp focus is on the numbers! Every undocumented …

"El Cuco" at Casa De Esperanza

"El Cuco" At "Casa De Esperanza"

When you placed your head on your pillow last evening did you feel safe? No, really! Did you drink in the gratitude for all that you have in your life; the warm bed, roof over your head, love and camaraderie of (nearby) family and friends, a good job, a car or transportation to get you from place-to-place? This is the abundances many will never know?

Did you sleep well? No, I mean really sleep... the kind of restful escape of knowing that you've put in a hard day of work, maybe you were exhausted, maybe you made someone's life a little brighter, or perhaps you worried about typical challenges in your day-to-day life as a mother, father, youth or elder, employ or employer; challenges you are sure to find the answers to with time.

Did you wake up this morning ready to start the day? No, really! Did you get yourself ready to enter the world, kiss the kids, read the news, have a little breakfast, feed the dogs, or go to the gym? Did you then run out the door to begin the day?

What if the routine and beauty of it all were forcefully taken from you one day? What if the authoritarian wealthy leadership of the very country that you were born into threatens to destroy your peace of mind, safety, security, and trust in the system that you had contributed to your entire existence on this earth?

What if you lay your head down each night (in a bed with linens, pillows, and a cozy comforter that sadly, you know that you will soon have to sell or give away), wondering if tomorrow would be the day that your partner might be taken away?

Troublesome teens knocked on our door last night. They quickly ran away. Horrible timing for a family facing deportation, the loud knock of the bratty youth unleashed chaos and fear on the other side of the door. An innocent kid's prank or ICE at our door, I hope you never know what it's like to be living in such fear.

"El Cuco" or "boogie man" is a popular Hispanic folklore that is often used by parents to scare their children from misbehaving.  The fable describes a monster that simply eats bad children. The concept of "El Cuco" gives new meaning to the fear that we're now living each day as we've lost our sense of security in the face of our pending departure - only we haven't been bad and aren't deserving.  Life as we knew it has been all but devoured by the monster.

Blinds closed on every window and a whiteout sticker to cover the once radiant stained glass on the front door,  El Cuco has become the norm at our new home affectionately named, "Casa De Esperanza" or "hope." In keeping with our discipline of naming each of our rehab projects, we named our newly remodeled home as a symbol of hope for the neighborhood that we had hoped to help revitalize. Fear, anger, depression, rage, and sometimes confusion have taken the place of any hope we once held as now we're working to deconstruct the life that we built in prep for a move outside of the country.

Ever thought about what your existence might be like if your full-time work was now finding ways to prevent the total destruction of your life? What if you spent every day creating strategies for selling your every possession and then moving thousands of miles away to a country you have never seen? With nothing but our two dogs and a few pieces of luggage, we have to find a way to seriously downsize our lives in order to make the journey to a (yet to be determined) new home somewhere in Central America.

Ever tried to pick a new home where such atrocities could never happen, yet your options are limited to less civilized nations? Ever looked for a new neighborhood where personal safety is all but impossible where economic challenges have resulted in crime, addiction, violence, and the rule of gangs?

What happens when your sense of peace, safety, and security that you once took for granted is all washed away? Just imagine for a moment - you go to bed one night thinking about all the things you want to get accomplished on the next day, only to wake up the next morning to find ALL of your "next days" from that moment forward, are forever and profoundly changed. Fear becomes the norm. 

Ever been the target of hate? No, really! Seriously! Hate wherein you've been judged by another who seeks to dominate the very essence of who you are? Being the subject of lies viciously propagated by your nation's president and political leaders for their own ego and political gain is the extremest examples of bullying and hate, ("Illegals are stealing our country", "Undocumented are draining our public service", "Illegal immigrants are all bad hombres", "we are going to deport only the criminals"). I have been the lifelong target of bullies!

I hope you never have to experience the pain of being the outcast - the target of such hate - at almost 50 years of age, gay, and married to an undocumented immigrant who is being criminalized and forced from the country. Being eaten by El Cuco somehow seems the better condition.

According to some, our crimes (working, contributing to society, paying into the Federal tax system, revitalizing a neighborhood, creating new and contemporary homes for families while also creating jobs for our workers, taking care of others, giving to the community, and loving each other while trying to build our own prosperous and peace-filled future), are the worst of the fallen sins that are worthy of modern-day lynching. And yet, who among them (the conservative stone throwers) are more loving, caring, generous, and giving? This is the paradox I just can not resolve in my own mind - the definition of hate.

Place your head on your pillow tonight and rest! No! I mean really take a deep breath and soak up an intentional moment of peace! Drink in the juicy splendor of cozy sheets, a warm bed, safety, love, peace, and abundance while you have it. I sincerely hope that you shall never lose your sense of beauty to the hands of the hate and fear that we've come to know as everything that once mattered to us will soon be devoured by the darkness of El Cuco.

Together, Enrique and I will find our place on a beach somewhere in El Salvador, Panama, Costa Rica, or Spain. And, when we do, I'm confident in retrospect, we will one day look back at this time of great challenge and strife as one of life's blessings in the end. Like most challenging times of the past, this too will make sense to us one day.  But one thing is for certain on this particular day, that everything is different now that El Cuco has gobbled up our sense of peace and security in the states. I hope that you may never come to know the pain, devastation, targeting, fear, and hate of El Cuco (Trump and his supporters) within the United States.