From a translated letter written by Elfrega Bravo Rivas and sent to FFI from Mesa Verde Detention Facility. Elfrega has subsquently been released from detention.

Hello, I am a Mexican dove, and this is a short story of my life. Everything began more than a year ago, when some birds of prey savagely murdered my father, leaving me with a broken heart and wings, my world torn apart. As a happy dove with the desire to leave soon after, I was terribly afraid of being devoured by this pack, birds of prey. My destroyed heart had one hope of fleeing and leaving my nest and my family. I thought that I would be saved from the hell – that the fear that I was feeling would eventually end, that the bad that had happened would go away.

"Rebirth" by Josh MacPhee

But I solved one problem with another, fear for fear and hell for hell, when I had the chance to immigrate. I felt a huge relief and I saw my freedom and a better future, another nest in this country. But this beautiful thought was very far from my sad reality. They locked me up in this cage in a basement, where I didn’t see the sun, the moon, absolutely nothing from outside. The basement is better described as a cemetery where you can only hear sighs and cries where the fear and anguish breathes, but where more than anything you feel the immense pain of each of the birds who find themselves captive here in this horrible place. My gray world is now hopelessly dark. The birds of prey have returned, but now they are another species. These ones don’t take away life with just one blow, they first take away your dreams, illusions, and hopes. They kill these one by one, slowly.

Apart from this place’s bad conditions and the cold that penetrates you, there is another problem: food and water are very scarce. But this was the least of our worries. This was nothing compared to the problems that we took with us on our wings. Before they took me to this other nest, to put me in a better cage, of course this might be better, but it doesn’t mean that this is no longer prison. From the outside, the light of the sun and the moon, the hopes that I thought for a while I had lost, came back with an even bigger force and enthusiasm. I saw a little ray of light from the hall. Sadly I realized that this light was unreachable because the only way of leaving this cage was paying for your freedom as if you had committed a crime, something that never in my life have I done. The best option would be if a bird outside the cage could pay for your freedom, but who do you know who would pay you $8,000 dollars? This is what my freedom costs.

I don’t know birds from this country because I’ve never been here before. Maybe I never needed to come. After more than four months of imprisonment, it makes me wonder what to do with life? I [could] return to my old nest where I know there are many birds of prey waiting to devour me, or I stay here where I am losing my life little by little, where I don’t have anybody to help me. In Mexico, my chance to escape my problems was to migrate here, and here I have only one option: to wait for what? I don’t even know. Every time that I go to see the cardinal bird I tremble with fear, thinking that my life depends on him. My possibilities of surviving are very little. Every time that he visits here I feel like surrendering, of leaving this fight that for some is nothing, but my desire to live is stronger and I stopped asking for another opportunity. God is big and he put three small birds that intersected my path before the cardinal.

Every day I ask God why. While I have a life I will have hopes and I will continue fighting every day with all of my strength. Maybe what I ask is impossible for me, but not for God. Every morning I get up with the yearning of being free and flying. I strongly believe that if this doesn’t kill me, it will make me stronger. I know that far away there are many birds that can help free me, but also the majority prefer to help doves of their same descendance, same color or plumage. I don’t judge them because maybe I would also do the same. I only ask for a vote of confidence and an opportunity, because if under God we are equal, there are so many differences but we all deserve a better life. I don’t say this just for me, but for all of the migrant birds.

I have not given up – have you?