Sunday, 22 October 2017 20:27

Dealing with my brother’s deportation

By Venecia Salazar

At a certain point at dusk, the harsh, white lights of the hallways turn off and the dimmed, orange-colored lights come on throughout the school halls. This was my favorite time of day in high school, when it was quiet, everyone was gone, and the night sky filled the windows.

I was enjoying the peace. I was at my locker when I received a call, and I was excited when I saw that it was my older brother, Carlos. I had not seen him since I left Arizona and moved to Utah a couple of months before. “Hello!” I answered. “I’m going to California,” he said with a subtle voice. That was enough for my blood to rush in my veins and my eyebrows to rise.

My family moved to Arizona when we were children. We lived there for years. When my mother and I moved to Utah, my brother who was a couple years older than me, decided to stay in Arizona. Fear captivated our lives since we were told at a young age that we were undocumented, and we could not travel much because of dangers of being asked where the almighty papers and proper documentation were. Now, here my brother was telling me that he was going to California.

My heart was pounding as I expressed my worry. I wished him well in whatever decision he made, and we hung up. The halls now seemed to be against me, judging me because I let him go. Even though it was his choice, I knew that hearing my voice calmed him and made him feel it was OK to go.

As I was making my way home that night, I received another call from our oldest sister who still lived in Arizona. My heart knew why before I said hello. “Carlos got caught and they are taking

him to Mexico right now.” I heard the disappointment in her voice along with the words I never wanted to hear. “Let mom know, OK?” “OK.” The conversation was over between us, but not the war in my mind. When do I tell her? When is it a good time to tell my mom that her son had been deported? Should I wait? No!

I finally arrived home from my journey. When I went inside, I looked and treasured my mother’s skinny, already-pale face, her light brown bun curled on the top of her head, and caramel-colored eyes. I held that moment, knowing it would all change in a few minutes. The house was filled with a wonderful, warm aroma of her delicious food. I decided to tell her before we ate. My heart was pounding as I made my short way to the kitchen where I saw my mother cutting some onion. Chop! Chop! Chop! I stood by the wall in silence, just observing.

I asked her to put the long, sharp knife down. I took a breath, looked into her eyes and said with a calm voice, “Carlos is in Mexico.” A short but powerful spear of a sentence into my mother’s heart. “What!?” “He was on his way to California ...” I began. Tears were filling up her eyes. “Why?” she asked. “I don’t know.” Pause. “Everything happens for a reason,” I told her with a heavy heart. She didn’t appreciate it, “Pfft, what could possibly be the reason for this?” she asked as she wiped her tears from her eyes that were focused on the floor. I stayed quiet because she didn’t want to hear the answer from me, but from someone who is all seeing and all knowing. For, why did He allow our biggest fear to be this real?

There was a long silence until it was broken by more chopping, when all she could do in the moment was chop. My mother and I had never been close enough to talk about our feelings, so we didn’t. I knew she was in shock, and I accepted her subtle reaction with grace. I prepared the table, and we ate in silence. I was wondering if she was going to do anything else, say anything more, or express her emotions. She didn’t.


Everything else that night was monotone and gray. Will I ever see my brother again? Will he ever be able to step foot in the United States? Will I ever get a chance to see him without putting myself in danger, too? Lord, please keep him safe. These were my thoughts as I went to bed, but I fell asleep to the wonder of my mother’s praying words, both hopeful and questioning.

A few years later on a winter night, my mother gave me news that lightened my heart like no other. My brother was still in Mexico but she oozed all the happiness in the world. “Your brother is going to have a baby!”