He talked a lot about his Papi, how Papi would come to be with him and his mama, here in America. Carefully I would ask about Papi, where was he? Was he here in the United States? He never answered. He just held the “Ken” soldier doll, carefully, almost reverently. Once he touched his cheek with the doll’s small hand. But he never told me where his Papi was.
At El Calvario in Las Cruces, the ICE agents brought us what I called “The Little People.” Our job was to process them for the journey to their sponsors and their court hearings. This small boy wormed his way into my heart as we sat together on the floor and talked, while I struggled to reach him in my broken street Spanish. Through the hours, across a world of differences, a tiny boy broke my heart.
And then the day came we sent them off to their sponsors. When the cars drove away, I walked back into the children’s play area to put the toys away. There on the rug I found Papi, face down, arms spread.
Where is Papi? Where is that small boy? Did he find his dream? And is his Papi there with him? I will never know.