Wildin Acosta, Yefri Sorto Hernández and Pedro Salmerón were detained by agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on their way to school. Their teachers, school staff, friends and families are calling for their release. In their own words they share what it is like to be behind bars.
I am Pedro Arturo Salmerón Salmerón. I live in Charlotte, North Carolina and I am a student of Vance High School
I find myself detained in a detention facility called CCA Stewart Detention Center and it is one of the worst detention [centers] in the country, because of the treatment and environment of detention.
The way of life in the detention center is inadequate and really uncomfortable. The food on many occasions is bad and recreation is really insufficient.
At the detention center, one can see disappointment and despair of continued detention on the faces of the detained. The administration of this place is bad and the superiors do not improve the quality of it.
My dream always is to make it as a musician. For this, I have dedicated the majority of my life to it, the long and hard study of it, so that I know how to play multiple instruments.
In addition, I have studied many other topic areas such as information, astronomy, medicine, engineering and literature. These are the studies that at times I have wanted to study professionally and at times I would feel proud of.
For me, the United States of America represents a grand nation and for me, it is a one of the best economically, safety-wise, efficiency-wise and intellectually. The opportunities here are big and here one is able to achieve in the areas that you want, and in contrast to my country of origin, the U.S. represents my future and the family.
The city of Charlotte, North Carolina where I live is for me, my home. And the tranquility of this place is very gratifying. The people are nice and there are many places to discover. The environment is soothing and the work is abundant. The city is my place and [the place] of my family.
My only request is to be free and to be able to live in Charlotte, North Carolina. I do not want to be deported to my country. I have already suffered from these aggressive criminals and lost family members because of them. These are only some of my fears of returning.
Please, I need to be free, I am not a bad person, I don’t deserve to be here incarcerated. I need assistance to leave because like I said before, I am not able to return and my future is here. I ask for compassion, because I consider myself a humble person of good deeds and thoughts.
From Yefri Sorto Hernández
I want to ask for your help to see if they are able to release me so that I can leave and fight my case outside [of jail] because the conditions that one finds here are very difficult. Especially for me who has never been imprisoned, it is very hard because here there is nothing good to do, other than think about my family, [about if] they are good or what they will do, waiting for when I can go back to embrace them again.
There are very sad moments for one. Even the tears come when I remember that I have been separated from my parents for 15 years and now that we have been reunited, they want us to go back to being separated. This is a very hard blow for my family and me. Only God knows how much I have cried in this place.
There are days that my mind is not on this planet, my mind goes flying. I do not remember anything and amongst everything, there is the same thought that I do not want to be deported. I do not want to know anything about my country or my life for these moment put me in a really bad place in my mind. The only thing I see is how the days pass and I am unable to be with my parents and moreover waiting for that special day when I can return to them and feel the love of my parents.
— Lily Eskelsen García (@Lily_NEA) April 20, 2016
My mind cannot rest day and night thinking about the place that I am in. There are days that I pass just lying down because I feel depressed until my friends tell me that I should not be worried and that I should get up. But this is difficult. They tell me that I could become crazy from all this thinking about my family. But I cannot stop asking God that he give me strength and that he is able to take me away from here. This is how I gather strength because he has not let me fall.
And regarding the phones, one is not able to speak very much to family because the calls are expensive. I am only able to speak 10 minutes with my parents although I want more time to speak with them because they miss me a lot. When I speak to them, I feel happy and sad at the same time because I know that I am only able to speak to them and not able to be with them giving them hugs. It makes me feel bad and happy because I am not able to see them, I am to speak with them to see how they passed the day. And to speak to my country also is very expensive because the card is $5 for 3 minutes.
Regarding the food, what they give in this detention [center] is not that good. There are days when there is nothing good and one does not leave to eat because you already know what they are going to give and it is best remaining in the tank making a soup. But at least they sell commissary here so that one does not suffer as much although the commissary is very expensive but we are left with no other option than to buy food so that one is able to eat a little better although not completely.
The only thing that I ask to you is an opportunity so that I may leave and fight my case from outside. I’m not a person who would do harm to this country. I don’t know why they treat someone like this. The only thing that I want is to be together with my parents.
That is the most sacred thing there is. But they do not view like this and always take this the wrong way. I want to ask you to please give me a chance to be with my family, to be able to finish my studies and to be able to work honorable, because I fear returning to my country, [even having a dream that when I returned to my country, they had killed me]. For these reasons I ask you to have compassion for me and ask that you are able to release me so that I can be with my family. I appreciate it with all my heart.
From: Wildin Guillen Acosta
Hello, I want to tell you that it is not easy being here in CCA because the conditions are very bad.
Every day is the same story to tell you [because there’s nothing to do] but wait for someone to take me out of here.
I ask the members of Congress to help me get out of here because I want to complete my dreams of graduating from school, so that my parents will feel proud of me, so that my parents can hear my name [be called] and the director of my school can give me my diploma and tell my parent here is your son that I am proud of.
I ask all those to please help me leave from here, so that ICE releases me to complete my dreams. I am asking you from the bottom of my heart, please free me.