One of the most poignant moments of the third night of the Democratic National Convention came when an 11-year-old girl whose mother was deported by the Trump administration took the virtual stage.
In her brief video, Estela Juarez read a letter to President Donald Trump about her life story. Her dad is a U.S. Marine who has served in Iraq and other places overseas. Her mom, who lived in the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant for two decades, was deported back to Mexico in 2018 when Estela was just 9.
"Now, my mom is gone," she said. "Instead of protecting us, you tore our world apart."
Her father, Temo, is a naturalized American citizen who also had immigrated from Mexico and voted for Trump in 2016. He believed Trump would protect military families, Estela Juarez said.
Temo Juarez didn’t figure his vote would affect them personally, his daughter said. That was before the enforcement of Trump’s "zero tolerance" policy toward illegal immigration.
When Estela Juarez's mother, Alejandra, arrived at Orlando International Airport in 2018 to return to Mexico, a reporter asked what she would say to the president. Alejandra said she’d ask how Trump could let this happen, since he "always says he loves the military and he’s doing everything for the military."
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"My husband fought for this country three times. The administration, yourself, you think you are punishing me. You’re not just punishing me," she said, referring to her family. "I hope this makes him happy. And I really pray that God will forgive him."
Estella Juarez's older sister, Pamela, tearfully added at the time, “My mom is a good person. She’s not a criminal."
In her video Wednesday, Estella Juarez said her father will not vote for Trump this year.
As she read her letter, a video montage showed Trump demeaning immigrants in speeches, calling them animals. His comments were juxtaposed against images of children being held in detention centers.
"Every day that passes, you deport more moms and dads and take them away from kids like me," she said. "You separated thousands of children from their parents and you put them in cages. Some of those kids are now orphans because of you."