It doesn’t matter that she’s read the story hundreds of times, Maria Uribe always loses it on the last line.
“They look at each other and say, ‘we’re all going to be alright,’” Uribe read, closing the book and wiping tears from her eyes.
Each time she reads the story, Uribe is reminded of why she wrote it.
“Children are going through all of this and we cannot forget about it,” Uribe said.
Uribe has been an educator for 40 years and trains future teachers at University of Colorado-Denver.
She became an author after a recent classroom visit. She was working with a teaching candidate at a school when she recognized the 4-year-old girl. She’d seen her before, but this time was different. The girl wasn’t her usual chatty self.
“She was in the corner crying and I said to the teacher candidate, ‘so, what’s going on?’ And she said, ‘well, she’s crying because she thinks that her mom and grandma are going to be deported.”’ Uribe said.
The 4-year-old was worried about losing her family and moving in with foster parents. Uribe had to leave the classroom to cry.
“I lost it,” Uribe remembered. “And I just sat in my car for so long.”
Uribe thought long and hard about how a teacher might be able to help.
“I said, [there] has to be a way that this message is sent that is profound and people – not only people who go through this experience know about it, but also people who have no idea that this is happening,” she said. “This is what I’m going to do. I’m going to write a book.”
Uribe is the author of “Todos vamos estar bien” or “We’re Going to be Alright.” It’s a children’s book that broaches the difficult subject of deportation.
“I thought this is something people need to know and the best way is through a book,” Uribe said.
The illustrated book tells the story of Maira who learns her mother and grandmother will be deported. Uribe tells the story in English and Spanish. She hopes the book helps people understand the impact deportation can have on children.
“We think about the different laws and the different things that need to happen with adults, but we forget about the children,” Uribe said.
The American Immigration Council says that 4.1 million U.S. children under 18 live with a parent who’s in the country illegally. Between 2011 and 2013, roughly half a million children have experienced the “apprehension, detention, and deportation of at least one parent.”
“As a teacher and as a principal, I saw many cases like this,” Uribe said.
She doesn’t recall another 4-year-old girl worried about her parents being deported. It’s hard for Uribe to read her own book without shedding a tear. She’ll keep reading and sharing the story and hopes others do, too.
“Honestly, I think what I hope is that we look at children as children,” Uribe said.
Note: The school mentioned in the video is DU. Uribe works at CU Denver, as this article states.