Among my many projects, I’ve been doing volunteer Spanish translation for No More Deaths. Much of the time, it’s just administrative notices and event announcements—all necessary and worthwhile, but pretty much boilerplate stuff. Every once in a while, though, I get an assignment that really touches the heart. I just completed one of those this week, centered around a woman named Alexa.
Alexa’s story is evocatively captured in this article. (She has withheld her real name for fear of reprisal.) The short version: She is a 23-year-old woman from Guatemala who is the aunt and primary caregiver of a six-year-old girl. The girl’s mother, Alexa’s sister, was killed by a gang that had earlier killed their mother and father. Alexa found the girl, a baby at the time, “near death, choking in a pool of blood, her little legs bound.” Alexa thus became the de facto mother of the girl. When the same gang later killed Alexa’s partner and shot at her as well, she decided to leave the country with the girl and apply for asylum in the United States.
Unfortunately, when they got to the United States, the US authorities separated them from each other. This, of course, has been a tragically common occurrence. In their case, the separation was based on the absurd US policy position that when a child is accompanied by a nonparental relative, the child is regarded as “unaccompanied.” So, the child in this case was sent to a New York foster home, while Alexa was put in immigrant detention in Arizona to await the resolution of her case. Initially they had no contact at all, though through the efforts of US helpers they are now able to talk on the phone twice a week.
Among these US helpers is a coalition of over two hundred US faith leaders who have signed a letter petitioning for Alexa’s release. Indeed, there is really no need at all to detain the vast majority of asylum seekers awaiting their cases, and it is especially cruel to separate a six-year-old girl from the only mother she’s ever known. These faith leaders feel called by God to love their neighbor as themselves by helping to reunite Alexa and her beloved niña.
This is where I came in. The faith leaders gathered together their individual personal messages and put them in a letter for Alexa. They needed a Spanish translation so she could read their prayers and expressions of love and support, and it was an honor and privilege for me to provide it. I’m sure these messages will lift Alexa’s heart. A sample:
My prayers are with you, your daughter, and your whole family! May you feel God’s love surrounding you!
Many more than you can know surround you with love and support, joined with each other by God’s love and our love for each other. Seeking your freedom, we pray it will come soon.
Know that God is with you on this journey.
May you find strength in your journey and the support of all those who see your path forward toward light and wellbeing. May you find comfort in your faith and in the triumph of justice and love in a world that appears harsh and indifferent. Sending blessings of compassion.
You are loved. I care. May you be free.
You are not forgotten! We are sending love and light to you.
Alexa, please know there are so many of us who stand in solidarity with you and are working for your release. Sending love and blessings.
We hold you in our hearts, Alexa. May peace be upon you & your beloved girl.
Alexa, I and millions of caring people are with you and your niece. Thank you for the love you have shown by taking this brave journey to make her safe. We will not stop.
May you be reunited with your daughter, and be granted parole. I pray for patience, strength, and support for you in this process. Sending love and hope from Minnesota!
Dear Alexa, your network of support is wide and deep and growing stronger every day. I cannot imagine what you have been through and how scary this all must be, but know that you have so many people in your corner praying for you, advocating for you, and fighting for your release. Carry our spirit of love with you, may it bring you some small moments of comfort when things feel overwhelming.
You are not alone.
I join with all of these wonderful people in praying for Alexa and her little girl (along with so many others in similar situations), and invite you to do the same. None of us is alone.