Del Sur is a bilingual podcast from the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas about legal issues affecting our community and the human impact they have on the lives of people living in this border region. En otras palabras, historias y voces del sur.

In our first episode of Del Sur, Efrén C. Olivares talks to Elizabeth, a Mexican immigrant who qualifies for DACA but was once detained for five days by immigration authorities. Below you can listen to the episode or read an excerpt of Elizabeth describing her time inside the detention center when she defended her rights.

This podcast is hosted by Texas Civil Rights Project and produced by Neta. Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher!

Elizabeth: When I was detained in the immigration detention center, I would even argue with the agents because there were people that did not know how to speak English, and they would give them documents in English. And I would tell them, “Hey, wait. Why are you giving them documents in English?” [They would reply,] “No, you’re not allowed to have an opinion.” [I would respond,] “No wait, how can I not? It’s something illegal. How are you going to give them a document in a language that they don’t understand? They don’t know what they’re signing and even then they only sign because [the guards] tell them, “Sign here. Sign here. Sign here.” Obviously with the fear of being detained, you do it. I didn’t do it, and they would put the papers, they would call me, they would take me out of the cell, they took me out an infinity of times to try to make me sign. They would tell me, “Oh no, this is just for this.” [I would tell them], “I don’t care what it’s for, I’m not going to sign. I’m not going to sign.”

They even gave me nicknames—they told me that I was too fierce and bold, and I don’t know what else.

Efren: The immigration agents?

Elizabeth: The immigration agents. And they would make fun of me. In fact, they told me that I was a stupid person. They asked me, “how could you be so stupid so as to turn yourself in?”

And I would tell them, “because I have an attorney and they will get me out.” Believe me when I say the made me doubt myself. They get inside of your head. They made me doubt and ask myself, “and if yes, and if they’re right?” I had to hold firm. I didn’t sign anything. I was there five days.

They give you what they call a “space blanket” which is paper so you can cover yourself. A sheet of paper.

Efren: Yes, it’s made of something like aluminum.

Elizabeth: Yes, it’s aluminum. It’s all they give you. They give you— two or three times a day— a small bologna sandwich. Two pieces of bread, one bologna, and a juice. That’s it.

Efren: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner?

Elizabeth: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The same. It’s really hard because…well, where I was detained the cells, the bathrooms, had a super thin wall, super thin…the only thing it covered was the private parts. At front, the cell had a really big glass and at the front their were men. How are you going to use the restroom if there are men and they are staring at you? Actually, when I got there, they checked me, they put their hands on you and everything, and the men staring. It’s something super uncomfortable. They don’t care. They literally don’t care.

Efren: More than uncomfortable, it’s humiliating

Elizabeth: Yes, it’s super humiliating. Super humiliating. And I’m telling you, more than anything that’s why the fear is there. I would not like to have to go through that again. I lived it. And I didn’t live it because I committed a crime. I lived it because in the moment my attorney saw it as a way to get me status. But yes, it’s humiliating. It’s super sad. It’s a terrible, very terrible, experience. For the people who are listening, do not break any laws. Take care of yourself because it is something super, super, difficult.  

This podcast is hosted by Texas Civil Rights Project and produced by Neta. Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher!

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