Sidenote: The story and character below is entirely fictional.
The TV was on, starting with coverage of New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo.
I listened to the speech closely, hearing how New York City was very much improving, despite it being the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak. Then the news switched to coverage of President Donald Trump talking about how the outbreak was a success, and that even more than 100,000 Americans could have died if his administration had not taken action. Then, the news switched over to the protests that were happening all across America, rallying against the strict stay at home orders.
I laughed about this while inside of my cell. While my 72 days here have not been great, it was better than facing the gangs and fearing for my life everyday I previously faced in my home country, south of Mexico.
I got tired of hearing the news, because it repeated itself over and over. Donald Trump… protests… Democratic governor reaction… Trump reaction… CNN reaction… Donald Trump on twitter… News reaction… protests… Democratic governor reaction… and so on and so on. It was all the same thing, because nothing changed.
As I laid back on the cement floor again, and put my blanket on myself, I heard my cellmate coughing again. It seemed like a cold, but it had gotten worse and worse. Furthermore, he wasn't even covering his mouth. And he wasn't able to get a mask, the guards didn't give him one. "We're out of money" or "we're on short supply" they would say. Whatever it was, it was still very unsafe, he could have COVID or something, and literally spread it to all of us.
The guards then served us lunch in our cells, since the guards did not want us to be in close proximity to one another because of COVID. I looked down at the same old food that I was served everyday. What I would give to go to a grocery store, and have the freedom to buy my own food; even if I had to wait in long lines wearing a mask.
After dinner, I brushed my teeth, and looked at myself in the mirror.
"What is the difference between me and them?" I asked myself. Not my physical self, nor my gender, but rather where I was born. Just because I am a refugee, does that mean that I do not deserve the same freedom the Americans protesting deserve? Because I wasn't born in the US, and would like to move there legally, I have to live in this cell for months, deprived of my basic human freedoms and liberties?
To the Americans who are protesting for their freedoms (since they feel imprisoned by stay-at-home orders), what about the refugees, or the children that are locked up in cages? Do you deserve freedom more than them? Just because they are immigrants, does that mean that they do not deserve human rights or freedoms?
As I climbed into my hard cement floor bed, I thought about the last question I asked myself. Then I asked myself one more time, "Why are immigrants not seen by everyone as just people?".
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