- By Nataly Avendano Special to the American-Statesman
Just weeks ago, my dad asked about my progress in applying for college. I am a 17-year-old honors student at Wimberley High School, and I told him I was trying my best to finish applications. Who would have guessed the next day my family’s lives would be shattered?
On Jan. 30, the Kyle Police Department arrested my dad, Victor Avendano Ramirez, on his way to work for an incomplete stop at a stop sign. The next day, the Hays County Jail turned him over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Now, my dad is in a detention center in Pearsall — nearly 2 hours away from my mom, siblings and his grandchild — whom he watched every evening — and me. The only thing on his record are two Class C misdemeanors for driving without a license and then missing his court date, which he didn’t know about.
I had to stop the process of my college applications and miss several days of school to help my family because my one and only focus now is to get my dad released from the detention center.
I can’t focus on anything else. Not after many years of listening to my parents explain to my siblings and me to always get along, because families should always stick together since they will forever be there for you, no matter what.
I was very excited for this year; senior year is supposed to be the greatest year of high school. It’s when you find out if you will move on to college, and you can look forward to prom, senior trip and graduation.
This won’t be the case anymore. Instead of looking for prom dresses, nail designs and heels, I’m searching for lawyers, organizations and congressmen — anyone able to help get my dad released.
I was so excited for prom. My co-worker agreed to do my makeup, so I could take pictures with my family. Now, I doubt I will attend prom. How would I be able to go knowing that my dad is in a detention center having the worst time of his life?
It has been weeks since my dad was ripped apart from my family. Every night when I lie in bed, ready to sleep after an exhausting day of phone calls with so many people and the frustration of still not being able to get my dad released, I feel remorse for being in a bed with plenty of blankets, feeling comfortable, knowing that my dad is in a very cold, dark, uncomfortable place with no warm blankets.
I feel guilty because I’m in a nice comfortable house and bed; he and my mom worked so hard to give me everything I have.
My dad had been working really hard the past couple months because he knew many expenses were coming up, like my siblings’ and nephew’s birthdays and my graduation. My dad is an amazing baker — no one in my family has ever had a birthday cake not baked by our dad. The night before my quinceañeras, my dad didn’t get any sleep because he made a 3-story cake with his own hands!
I miss my dad saying goodnight to all of us; we miss his hugs, kisses and words of advice.
If I’m not able to get my dad released and to convince ICE to let him stay with our family here in the U.S, our home for 12 years, I will always carry that guilt and blame for not being able to help the man who has taken many risks and worked day and night to give us everything we needed to have a good life.
My prayerful hope is that Congressman Roger Williams, who represents Wimberley, and Congressman Will Hurd, who now represents my dad while he is indefinitely held in a detention center in Pearsall, will both hear my family’s plea and help to reunite us with our father.