A 12-year-old girl delivered one of the strongest emotional punches at the “Families Belong Together” immigration rally in Washington on Saturday.
Leah took the stage and told the crowd about the daily fear she feels as the daughter of undocumented immigrants. She became emotional talking about how she can’t sleep or study because she’s afraid her mother will be taken away.
Leah also said she wants to be a role model for other children like her and the children who were separated from their families at the border.
At one point, Leah was overcome with emotion and the crowd cheered her on, yelling, “We love you!” She replied, “I love you more,” before pushing ahead with her message.
Read her entire impassioned message below:
My name is Leah. I am 12 years old and I am from Miami, Florida.
I am the proud daughter of a domestic worker who loves me very much. My mom’s job is very important, unlike other government stuff. She takes care of children as a nanny and makes sure they are healthy and safe. Our government instead harms children and deports parents every day.
I am here today because the government is separating and detaining refugee parents and children at the border who are looking for safety. Our government also continues to separate US citizen children like me from their parents every day. This is evil. It needs to stop.
It makes me sad to know that children can’t be with their parents. I don’t understand why they are being so mean to us children. Don’t they know how much we love our families? Don’t they have a family, too? Why don’t they care about us children?
Why do they hurt us like this? It is unfair that they got to spend time with their families today while there are children in detention centers and in cages all alone missing their parents who are thrown in jail.
I live with the constant fear of losing my mom to deportation. My mom is strong, beautiful and brave. She is also a person who taught me how to speak up when I see things that aren’t fair.
ICE wants to take away my mom from me. I don’t like to live with this fear. It’s scary. I can’t sleep, I can’t study, I am stressed. I am afraid that they will take my mom away while she is at work, out driving or at home. I don’t understand why this administration won’t support mothers who just want a better life for their children. This needs to change!
We cannot allow them to keep hurting families, communities and children. I know that together we can make things better for families and kids.
I want to be an example to other kids who are going through the same problems as me. I want to tell kids at the border and all over the country not to give up, and fight for their families. We are all human, and deserve to be loved and cared for. We are children!
Our government has to do the right thing and stop separating us from our parents and stop locking us up. I won’t give up fighting for the right to stay with my mom. I am not asking for a favor. It is my right to stay as a child to live in peace with my mother and the rest of my family.
Leah finished with a message to her mother, delivered in Spanish: “Mom, I love you very much and I will always fight for you!”
CNN’s Gisela Crespo contributed to this report.