Written by: Grey
March 13th-Day before Release
The day before, we had heard that Lazaro was eligible for bond. Maria received Lazaro’s call in the evening and luckily, I was there with her to be able to plan our next steps. We had to act fast even though we didn’t know if this information was true. I made some calls to friends and organizers who could help me decipher and process what this meant. All we knew was that if this was true, we needed to pay $1,500 to bond him out by the next day before 3 p.m.
Maria took quick action; she started calling neighbors and friends to raise what was left of the money. She had some savings that she was going to use for rent, utilities and food, but felt it was necessary to put that towards Lazaro’s bond. Within hours, she was able to collect all of the money borrowing from close friends and neighbors who knew of her story.
By now, I knew of Maria’s strength and the love she had for her partner and her family. I knew that there was nothing she couldn’t accomplish. I stood in shock and awe as she showed me the money in her hands.
The day closed and we were prepared with a plan. I volunteered to take her to Broward Transitional Center and settle this once and for all. I knew that Lazaro was not meant to be there. He needed to be out and it needed to be now. We would go together in her car and meet up with Telemundo National who, by this time, wanted to cover her story. Everything was set. We would fight back and release Lazaro tomorrow.
March 14-Lazaro’s Release
The day arrived and I left my house at 3 AM in the morning in tow with my sister and co-pilot. We arrived at Maria’s house at 5 A.M. it takes me an hour or so to get to Labelle from Naples and it must have taken me longer this time around due to the darkness and sleepiness.
Maria’s two daughters greeted us first–Jassiry and Briseida–and gave us the warmest “welcome back” hug. Over the days we were with Maria, we had gotten close to the family’s children. They knew our names, knew what we were doing and were happy to see us. Maria followed close behind and packed the car. Suddenly, it was time to go.
We left and headed to Krome first. Krome, being the biggest detention center in the state, gave me the creeps. I knew that we needed to pay bond there and needed to make sure everything went well before we did anything else.
We arrived at Krome and were greeted by Telemundo television crew. By then, I had talked to Maria about just telling her story because there was value in what she was doing for the sake of her family. She needed to hear that so I told her often.
She was amazing–needless to say. She told her story not out of pity but out of courage. That made a huge difference throughout her day as she became more and more confident that what was happening was unjust.
I went in after the interview and paid the bond. It them a couple of hours to process but finally, accepted the bond. We were then headed to BTC.
Once at BTC, we were just told to wait. They, at no point, made this process any easier. Yes, I am not naive to think that but regardless, they could have at least given us a time of release. They didn’t. Needless to say, Maria and her 4 kids, including her baby daughter, waited in a hot car for 5 hours.
I would visit the actual facility a couple visits at a time to see if anything had change. Then, I would courier the message over to Maria.
Finally, only when Lazaro came out, did we know what had happened. He was out! Maria was yelling, “he’s coming out! he’s coming out!” and ran out of the car to greet him. The kids followed.
Lazaro approached, with little energy, but excited to be reunited with his family and especially, with his baby daughter. He had tears in his eyes. I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with joy and happiness.
It was a privilege to be part of this journey with them and to help them where I could. I know that the fight isn’t over, but it’s a great feeling to know that Maria and Lazaro can finally get some sleep next to each other. It’s a great feeling to know that the kids what their father back. And it’s the greatest feeling of all that telling your story DOES make an enormous difference in making a change towards something better. There are many others detained for minor infractions in Krome and BTC, but we can continue making a difference by sharing our stories. We will end Secure Communities and 287g. Our families can no longer be discriminated and persecuted based on their immigration status. We are strong and united.
La lucha sigue.