This undocumented Guatemalan woman stole the show.
The biggest moment of Wednesday’s presidential debate—the “Latino debate” since, after all, it was organized by Univision—didn’t come from Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton; it came from a Guatemalan woman who shared her pain with the world. Lucia Quiej stepped out of the shadow that every undocumented immigrant lives in and bravely told both candidates that her family was torn apart because her husband was deported for not having a driver’s license.
Lucia Quiej is a reminder that when it comes to immigration, it’s actual human beings we’re talking about.
— Soy 502 (@soy_502) March 10, 2016
It’s easy to be anti-immigrant when you think about the topic in the abstract: “THEY are coming into OUR country to take OUR jobs and drain OUR resources.” Under that framing, undocumented immigrants come across as faceless invaders. Lucia Quiej isn’t an ominous threat just waiting to take what’s yours. She’s a single mother trying to provide for five children. She too experiences frustration (yo, raising kids is hard!); she too feels pain, sadness, and suffering. (Did we mention her husband, who likely provided financial and emotional support, got deported?)
Lucia Quiej is the rule, not the exception.
— Catalina Martínez (@CataUsa) March 10, 2016
What happened to Lucia Quiej and her five children wasn’t an isolated incident. In fact, her experience is all too common in Homestead, Flo., an agriculturally-driven city outside of Miami with a big immigrant population.
“There a lot of people here with ankle monitors, many children whose parents were taken away by Immigration,” Quiej told Progreso Weekly in 2014. “In Homestead, there’s nothing; only despair.”