On Tuesday, December 19, when Lucia* and her three children were leaving home to head to school, her middle child, Guillermo, noticed a note on the front door. Lucia thought it might be from some of the children in the building, who are friends with her kids. But the 10-year-old warned her: "It's kind of ugly, Mommy."
"Dear Wetbacks, 23 of you?" This is your neighbor 615, no one likes your loud ass wetback music, ok? You want to play that loud go back to where you belong ok? Mexico!!! You are in America so act like it. We want to build a wall to keep nasty ass spics like you out. You can't read this ... so suck my d*ck!"
Although Lucia, 31, says she did not understand everything in the letter because she is not completely fluent in English, she did understand that it contained insults about her family and references to Donald Trump's promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border. Her son asked her what it meant to be a "wetback," and she explained that it is an insulting term for Mexican immigrants. She then tried to downplay the incident in front of her children, and took them to school.
But she could not stop thinking about it. "I've never been through anything like that, but the truth is I felt intimidated," said Lucia, who is from Michoacán but has lived in the United States for more than a decade, first in Chicago and now in Fullerton, California. When her husband got off work, they went to complain to the building's administration, where they were told there was nothing that could be done. "The United States is a free country and everyone can say what they feel," the administration explained.
They also thought about going to the police, but Lucia worried about the repercussions; she is undocumented, though her husband is not. "I do not want to have any problems," she said.
According to organizations that monitor hate crimes in the United States, such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, that's a common fear among immigrants: undocumented victims of hate incidents and hate crimes report these episodes far less frequently than other,s for fear of disclosing their immigration status to authorities. That makes it difficult to accurately count hate incidents and hate crimes.
Now Lucia and her husband are also worried that the neighbor who penned the note may call ICE on them. But above all, she is bothered to know that someone in the building doesn't want her there: "I felt very small, like I do not belong," she said.
We received Lucia's complaint through the project Documenting Hate. Have you been the victim of or witness to a hate incident or crime? Share your story.
*Names in this story have been changed.