"We are American families. We need a president who will bring people together, not tear them apart," the child says in the video.
The Democratic National Convention has dealt blow after blow to Donald Trump this week as everyone, from the Obamas and Clintons to grieving loved ones of COVID-19 victims, spoke out against the 45th president and his administration's questionable actions. While the political heavy-lifters deviated from their usual diplomatic approach and called Trump out by name, it was the smaller voices that truly reflected the pain and frustration of those who call America home. One of these voices belonged to 11-year-old Estela Juarez, whose mom was deported to Mexico in 2018 under the Trump administration's immigration policies.
Proud to see Florida’s little but mighty Estela Juarez fight for her mom Alejandra at #DNC2020. We can not take 4 more years of this. Alejandra’s home is here! #BringAlejandraHome #TodosConBiden pic.twitter.com/ThUc4QIOSV— Alida Garcia (@leedsgarcia) August 20, 2020
Estela, who was just 9 years old when her mom was separated from her, delivered a powerful message to the President in a video aired at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday. "Dear Donald Trump, I am 11 years old," the young girl reads from her letter in the video. "My mom is my best friend. She came to America as a teenager over 20 years ago, without papers, in search of a better life." According to BuzzFeed News, Estela's mom, Alejandra Juarez, crossed the border in 1998 at the age of 18, married Cuauhtemoc "Temo" Juarez—a naturalized US citizen who served in the Marines—in 2000, and settled down in Florida.
Here's my story on Davenport girl who spoke about mother's deportation in video shown at Democratic National Convention: https://t.co/H8PJJE6tLO— Gary White (@garywhite13) August 21, 2020
"My mom worked hard and paid taxes and the Obama administration told her she could stay," Estela continued. "My dad thought you would protect military families, so he voted for you in 2016, Mr. President. He says he won't vote for you again after what you did to our family. Instead of protecting us, you tore our world apart." The video includes a clip of Pamela Juarez, Estela's older sister, tearfully addressing reporters at Orlando International Airport in 2018 as her mother prepared to leave the country. "My mom is a good person and she's not a criminal," Pamela said at the time.
The young girl just featured in an immigration video at #DNC2020 is Estela Juarez. I detailed the anguish of her family’s separation in the @orlandosentinel for over a year after her mother, Alejandra, was deported to Mexico. #SupportLocalJournalism https://t.co/1tsM3a9Sld— Lisa Maria Garza (@LMariaGarza) August 20, 2020
"Now, my mom is gone. And she has been taken from us for no reason at all. Every day that passes, you deport more moms and dads and take them away from kids like me. You separated thousands of children from their parents and you put them in cages," Estela continued while heartbreaking scenes from immigrant detention centers played on the screen. "Some of those kids are now orphans because of you. Mr. President, my mom is the wife of a proud American marine, and a mother of two American children. We are American families. We need a president who will bring people together, not tear them apart."
Alejandra reportedly first came onto ICE's radar in 2013 during a traffic stop but was classified as a low-priority deportation case under the Obama administration's policy at the time. She was only required to check in with the agency biannually and avoid a criminal record. However, that changed when the Trump administration took over. In 2017, ICE informed Alejandra that everyone without documentation was now classified for high-priority deportation and that she would be deported if she didn't adjust her immigration status.
SO PROUD of my constituents Familia Juarez, especially Estela, for telling their story! Her mother Alejandra, wife of Temo, Iraq War Marine Vet, was deported as part of Trump’s #zerotolerance policy. Let’s elect @JoeBiden & reunite immigrant families like the Juarezes! #DNC2020 pic.twitter.com/zKFIRAZwOl— Darren Soto (@DarrenSoto) August 20, 2020
Alejandra's case drew widespread attention at the time as she is the wife of a veteran, especially one who had voted for the very man responsible for tearing their family apart. Speaking of Estela's heartbreaking video, her 18-year-old sister Pamela said that watching her younger sister on live TV made her very emotional and proud. "It's very heartbreaking for me because as her older sister I'm very protective of her, and it was very hard to not be able to see her or my mom every day," she said. "And then seeing old clips of my family and I at the airport as my mom was getting deported brought back a lot of emotions because I remember that day and how sad and upset I was as I saw my mom leave."
Pamela revealed that she called her mom right after Estela's speech ended. "I could tell she was feeling the same way I was," she said. "We're both proud of my sister and really hope that our whole family can be together again."