The debate over immigration in the United States is too often mired in doublespeak and the vitriol of xenophobia. As musicians, La Santa Cecilia chose a humanizing and harmonizing tone for their new single "El Hielo (ICE)." The Los Angeles-based Latin Grammy-nominated band tackles the issue head on with verse vignettes lyrically telling the story of Eva, a domestic worker, Jose, a jardinero, and Martha, an undocumented student aspiring to higher education.
In a reference to Orange County, lead singer La Marisoul sings that, as a landscaper, Jose can make a "lawn look like Disneyland," but drives a worn pickup truck without a license. The character in the song could just as easily live in Anaheim all the same. The themes of "El Hielo (ICE)" hit close to home for many of the band members--La Marisoul based "Eva" on the lived experiences of her mother, who makes ends meet cleaning homes.
The song starts out with the voice of a young person pointing out the double meaning of ice as something cold and frozen as well as being the acronym for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. As the song strums along a light bossa nova feel, it is in the chorus that "El Hielo (ICE)" cuts straight to the heart of a broken system that separates families. La Marisoul's phrasing is painfully melancholic when she sings "Some of us stay here / Others stay there," as Pepe Carlos' accordion melodies follow accentuating the sentiment.
It's a subversive musical expression of human warmth that could melt the icy heart of even the coldest Know Nothing!