Contact: Marco Saavedra January 31, 2012
Family of Joaquin Luna, DREAM Act Student Who Committed Suicide, Releases Statement in Support of Yanelli Hernandez and Launch of UndocuHealth.org
Activists race to stop deportation of a suicidal youth
Rio Grande Valley, TX—The family of Joaquin Luna has expressed their support for Yanelli Serrano Hernandez and for the Undocumented Mental Health Day campaign organized by the National Immigrant Youth Alliance. The initiative is an immediate response to the deportation of Yanelli Hernandez Serrano, a DREAM Act-eligible youth who has attempted suicide while in detention. She is set to be deported Tuesday.
In conjunction with NIYA, the Luna family is releasing the following statement on Undocumented Mental Health Day, the launch of UndocuHealth.org and the imminent deportation of Yanelli:
As a mother, I am saddened to hear what’s happening to Yanelli. I hope that my words get to her and can help her find some peace and hope. It’s not easy for a mother to see her child filled with dreams…and then wake up to a harsh reality that they are no longer here.
When my son died, I kept thinking why, why him? I still wake up wondering why it had to be him. I find comfort thinking that what happened with Joaquin will serve as a lesson for those who keep holding hostages the DREAMs of young children like Joaquin. His biggest DREAM was to be an engineer; that’s all he wanted. Unfortunately, he lost hope. I keep thinking that maybe another young person will hear about my son and it will help them find a way out.
I hope that ICE and the proper authorities find it in their heart to release her. She needs to be out, with her mother. Only a mother knows how to take care of her child, and also what it feels like to lose a child after we’ve try everything to keep them safe. I pray to God that Yanelli is released soon, and I pray that she doesn’t lose hope, that she doesn’t take her own life. Losing a child is the greatest pain a mother can go through.
I hope that more people understand that these DREAMers need help; they deserve a chance. I hope my son’s story serves as an example of why it’s important to help them and to give them a chance to fulfill their dreams. From where I am, the only thing I can do is pray to God for the well being of Yanelli.
Luna committed suicide last November, succumbing to frustration over his immigration status. His death triggered renewed calls for passage of the DREAM Act, as well as a conversation among activists about how to address the apparent epidemic of major depression among undocumented youth. Yanelli, instead of receiving treatment near her family, was placed in solitary confinement after her attempted suicide. She was left naked with only a blanket and placed on Prozac.