Blanca Martinez, ECCO Leader
I am writing to share my story, to tell you why your solidarity and support has meant so much to me. And I am writing to tell you how you have already made a difference in my life and the lives of many other immigrants like me.
I was born in Honduras and suffered from polio at a young age, which left me paralyzed in one leg. Because of the stigma of this disability, my family rejected me and left me in an orphanage. I was taunted and excluded for my disability even as an adult. Four years ago, a man assaulted me because he knew I couldn’t fight back. He told me he was coming back to kill me.
My Decision to Flee
I was faced with the decision of whether or not to leave. Leaving meant risking a serious and dangerous journey through Mexico on foot, when it is hard for me to walk long hours and days. But to stay meant to risk being killed. My fear was greater than my limitations, and so I decided to leave and made the treacherous journey to this country to seek asylum.
You Stood with Me and Gave Me Courage
Even though my life is clearly in jeopardy if I return, and even though the criteria for asylum is credible fear of violence in one’s home country, the US government has denied my applications and appeals for asylum. Yet, when I had all but given up, ECCO clergy and leaders stood with me as I reported to ICE, and because of your solidarity, I was granted a stay of deportation for three months. Your support gave me the courage to fight harder and tell my story to Congressman Moulton and to the offices of Senator Warren and Markey, to let them know that ICE funding is being used to hurt so many people like me, who are here only because we fear for our lives.
Because of our advocacy and stories, Congressman Seth Moulton has now written a public letter to Congress advocating the limitation of ICE funds for detention, deportation, and removal. And, because of ECCO’s meeting and longtime advocacy with her, MA State Senator Joan Lovely has become co-sponsor of the Family and Worker Mobility Act to allow all qualified drivers to obtain drivers’ licenses.
Invitation to Stand with Me on June 5th
Now, I must face ICE once more time, on June 5th at 9am. I am grateful to share that ECCO clergy and leaders will be meeting at 8:30am at the ICE Headquarters in Burlington to accompany me and ask that I not be deported. I ask you to join me if you can.
Because of your support and solidarity, I believe that change is possible
I don’t know what will happen to me on that day. I don’t know if I will be able to stay. I don’t know if I will survive this year if I am forced to return. But I do know that there are people in the world who care enough to risk to make things better, and that our actions for justice can make an impact.