In 2013, La Santa Cecilia released a song that fered a window into the lives undocumented immigrants in the United States living in fear being deported and separated from their families.
Titled “El Hielo,” which translates to ice — the initials the federal government’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency — the band shed light on a topic that hits close to home.
“When we wrote ‘El Hielo,’ we felt the need to express what was happening in our community due to unjust immigration policies and viewpoints from our government,” percussionist Miguel “Oso” Ramírez, whose parents are immigrants from Mexico, tells Billboard.
“Also, our band member José Pepe Carlos, along with a lot our friends were ‘Dreamers,’ so we decided to take that step. Doing so changed our lives.”
It was then that the Grammy-winning band from Los Angeles realized that music could portray “what so many us were living,” Ramírez says.
The politically-charged and powerful lyrics “El Hielo” are as relevant as ever. The song talks about families being separated by ICE and children crying not knowing if they’ll see their parents again.
It’s the narrative we’ve been hearing far too ten on the news lately: family separation at the border as a result the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. The policy prosecutes parents traveling with children hence being separated from their kids who are sent to detention centers.
“It breaks my heart to see what’s happening to our community right now,” Ramírez says. “How can you do that to families/children and sleep at night? As a person and as an artist, it hurts deeply.”
While President Trump has signed an executive order to stop family separation at the border and his administration has until July 26 to reunite nearly 2,500 separated children, Ramírez says it’s important to keep talking about the issue and raise awareness. “It’s up to all us. The politicians, media and grassroots organizations and everyone in our society to create change.”
Through songs, addressing immigrant issues onstage and posting their support for the Senate Bill 3036, or the Keep Families Together Act on social media, La Santa Cecilia is committed to continue denouncing anti-immigrant policies and contribute to “finding a solution to the problems we face,” Ramírez adds. “The best thing we can do as artists is to motivate, inspire and inform as many people as we can. We are not politicians. We are musicians, and I wish I could do more sometimes.”
The role musician slash activist is one that Ramírez doesn’t take lightly and it’s because his immigrant parents that he feels has more a responsibility to address the topic immigration.
“Our parents made a huge sacrifice so that we can have opportunities in life,” Ramírez says. “I can never forget that.”
For now, Ramírez and fellow band members including lead singer Marisol Hernández, bassist Alex Bendaña and accordionist Pepe Carlos will continue their Summer Lovin’ Tour across the United States to spread love and unity.
“We want to sing this song today titled ‘Nunca más’ because what’s happening in this country with the separation our families and communities,” Ramírez says onstage at the Taste Chicago on July 12. “Hopefully, you feel inspired to continue the lucha (fight) and utilize your voice to create some sort world that you deem just for our families.”