Dear Prospera Family,

Today we are taking a pause in our day to day lives to acknowledge the deep pain we are experiencing as a community of Latina immigrant women in this country. There is death, there is pain, there is grief in our community! The treatment of immigrants in this country is intolerable and we refuse to stay silent and carry on as if nothing is happening. 

Let us take a pause, stop, talk, yell, connect, march, do what we need to do to release our dismay about the horror that is taking place at the border. The image of two bodies holding one another without life on the Rio Bravo — of a father, 25 year old Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 11 month old daughter — has gone viral and has shaken us from a listless torpor induced by Dantesque images of migrant children in cages, bodies and more bodies in the desert, in the river, on the borders of the world. 

Migrants, people with a history, with dreams, escaping hunger, violence, predatory economics imposed by hypocritical and exploitative international policies. Stripped and displaced. Running, fleeing and hurdling borders; criminalized for seeking dignity; judged and persecuted; leaving this life, vanishing to become one more number in a system that is broken and inhumane. 

“We cannot continue negating our truth” says cooperativist and entrepreneur Guadalupe Pérez with a deeply felt voice. “Talking about these things will make us stronger and we will be able to walk tall with more clarity about who we are, why we are here and where we are going.” adds Nancy Rosales, founder of Pepitos Paletas. 

To take a pause is an act of courage. Raising our voice is a necessity. As migrants, we have been taught to lower our voice so as to not cause discomfort. We have been taught to cry silently so as not to be a bother; to laugh even though inside there is pain, absence, nostalgia and death.  

“Only those of us who live in a situation like this know what it’s like to go to sleep at night, to wake up in the morning, and to keep going. We are not “poor little things,we are human beings. Everyone has a right to seek wellbeing,” shares Lupe Perez at our CRECE meeting, where just three days after the Salvadoran family’s tragedy, the entrepreneurs in Prospera’s incubation program paused to reflect on the migrant situation and connect around this heavy topic.   

Silence, weeping, anecdotes, songs and wisdom showed up in abundance and reminded us once again that “only community heals!”  That is how we recognize the power of our voice and we arrive to a place of strength knowing that today more than ever we must step firmly, show our presence, and reconnect with our communal roots that inspire cooperation and mutual support. 

This is how we learn to rescue indigenous cooperative practices that come in many forms such as la faena, la tarea, minga, tequio, guelaguetza, convite, etc. Let’s break down the borders and dare to build the world that we desire, dream about and that we deserve. 

As Nancy Rosales reminds us “the world needs us to be bigger than ourselves.” It’s time to create discomfort, pick ourselves up, to question, to organize, to create! Quoting one of her favorite songs, Founder of Professional Eco Cleaning Coop, Anahi Rojas challenged the silence in the room with “for whom are these rules? For whom are these laws?”  

One day, one of my mentors Concha Saucedo, founder of Instituto Familiar de la Raza and immigrant rights icon advised me: “don’t believe everything you think” because you run the risk of allowing your colonized mind to limit your capacity to see the truth and instead repeat the oppressive messages imposed by the dominant system. We must urgently reject these internalized oppressive messages that blame immigrants.  

As Cinthya Flores, founder of Utz Threads reminds us “criticizing and judging without considering the circumstances is easier than analyzing the oppressive system that we react to.”

“We have the privilege to develop our leadership. Perhaps we are not dead for a reason. Let’s not forget that we are them and they are us. We must use our conscience to intervene whenever it’s necessary.” asserts Ana Castaño, founder of The Nanny Collective.

I, Claudia Arroyo, Community Education Director, ex-undocumented immigrant, woman, and mother of a five year-old cannot disconnect myself from what could have been Oscar’s final words to his daughter Valeria. “Don’t let go my child, don’t let go Valeria…we will get there…we will get there!!! And with sadness and indignation flooding my eyes, I dare to repeat the same mantra DON’T LET GO… We must hold on, defend ourselves with all that we have, take care of ourselves and not let go for anything! The current is strong, the attacks are savage but our strength as a community is much greater. Within the pain and the loss we can cooperate, build, connect and recover our unique roots of solidarity and mutual support. 

DON’T LET GO!
DON’T LET ME GO!
LET US NOT LET EACH OTHER GO

Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez (25 años) ¡PRESENTE!
Valeria Angie Valeria Martinez (23 months) ¡PRESENTE!
Gurupreet Kaur (6 years old) ¡PRESENTE!
Carlos Gregorio Vazquez (16 years old) ¡PRESENTE!
Felipe Gomez Alfonzo (8 years old) ¡PRESENTE!
Jakelin Caal Maquin (7 years old) ¡PRESENTE!
Juan de Leon Gutierrez (16 years old) ¡PRESENTE!
Valeria Martínez Ramírez (2 years old) ¡PRESENTE!

For all migrants of the world.
Assassinated, persecuted, ignored, criminalized, forgotten 

¡PRESENTE!

Here are some resources to help keep families together and safe

1. SF Rapid Response Network
2. SF Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs
3. American Civil Liberties Union (Español)
4. National Immigration Law Center (Español)
5. American Immigration Lawyers Association
6. American Federation of Teachers
7. Cómo protegerse de una Redada Migratoria