Estela Juarez, an 11-year-old Florida girl whose mother, Alejandra Juarez, was deported and moved to Merida in 2018, became the focus of attention for two minutes Wednesday night during the Democratic National Convention.
The fact that her father was a U.S. combat veteran did not stop the deportation, causing alarm and creating significant media attention at the time.
After 20 years in the United States, Alejandra Juarez chose Merida, where other deported military spouses and a small community of expats are already befriending her, YEL reported at the time.
A video of Estela speaking about her family’s plight ran at about a half hour intothe virtual convention carried on major U.S. TV networks.
“Dear Donald Trump, my name is Estela,” she says, reading from a piece of paper. “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.”
Referring to deportations, she also read: “We are American families. We need a president who will bring people together, not tear them apart.”
Cuauhtémoc “Temo” Juarez, her father, was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps and served a deployment to Iraq before leaving the military and starting a flooring business, the local Lakeland Ledger reported.
Alejandra Juarez, now 41, attracted the attention of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2013 after a traffic stop. Having no criminal record, she was classified as a low priority violator during the Obama administration and was only required to check in with the agency twice a year.
The election of President Trump in 2016 brought a zero-tolerance policy on enforcing immigration laws, and ICE agents told Juarez that she faced deportation. She went public with her story, including the fact that Temo Juarez — a naturalized citizen from Mexico — had voted for Trump.
Juarez was forced to leave the country in August 2018. Welcomed by a group of expats, she resettled in Merida, and Estela decided to live with her, though she has since returned to Davenport.
In the recorded segment, Estela speaks calmly even as her words convey the anguish her family has faced.
“My dad thought you would protect military families, so he voted for you in 2016, Mr. President,” Estela said. “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.”
She adds: “Every day that passes you deport more moms and dads, and take them away from kids like me.”
“You separated thousands of kids from their parents and you put them in cages,” Estela says. “Some of those kids are now orphans because of you.”
Reached by email by a Florida reporter on Thursday, Alejandra Juarez said the family isn’t doing interviews until they receive a promise from Biden that if elected he will overrule her deportation.
She is one of eight subjects in “Living Undocumented,” a series released last October. The program, produced by singer/actress Selena Gomez, covers the period leading up to Juarez’s departure on Aug. 3, 2018, as she faced a deportation order.
With information from the Lakeland Ledger