Quest for a Better Life Brought Me to Immigration Detention

Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees are incar- cerated at the West County Detention Facility in Richmond.

My name is Floricel Liborio Ramos. I am 38 years old, indigenous Huichol and a Mexican citizen. I have gone through many difficult things in my life, but the most difficult has been being in this detention center, where I cannot see or hold my children.

I was arrested on March 26 by immigration agents. It was very sad and painful because they arrested me in front of my children. I was locked up with others in a detention center in Richmond and everyone who worked there treated us harshly.

At 3 a.m. on July 17, they told us that we would be moved. They left us in a cold room. At 11 a.m., they gave us a sandwich and a bottle of water. There was a woman who was more than 70 years old. and there were people with diabetes. The officials did not give them their diabetes medicine. They did not give us anything.

From Richmond, they took us to San Francisco, and then, at 4 p.m, they moved us to Gilroy. We were given nothing more than the bottle of water and the sandwich that they had given us at 11 that morning. We arrived in Gilroy at almost 8 p.m. The officials moved us from a bus to a van. It was July, and the temperature was more than 100 degrees. The van did not have air conditioning, and it was dark inside.

We were nine women. We wanted to go to the bathroom, but the officials told us no. From Gilroy, they moved us to Fresno.

As we went, we could barely breathe; we needed air. They did not give us water. Of the women with diabetes, one woman fainted. Other women were vomiting. There was a woman with claustrophobia who was terrified of confinement; she fainted. We were tied at the hands, waists and feet and could not help her.

We desperately tapped on the interior window of the van between the back where we were held and the driver’s seat. We wanted the guard driving the van to listen to us so he would stop or give us water. He was on the phone and driving at the same time, and just yelled at us to shut up.

I thought that my life would end there. I felt that I would never see my children again.

We arrived in Fresno at 10 p.m. There we were moved to a different van, and from Fresno they brought us here to Mesa Verde in Bakersfield. We are alive by a miracle. We are receiving psychological help, because this experience is something we have not yet been able to overcome. I have been in Mesa Verde detention center for almost five months.

By Floricel Liborio Ramos for SAN FRANCISCO CHROENICLE
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