As the DREAM Act and other legislation are brought to congress I am reminded that my existence has never been only about being undocumented; that our fight is not to “become legal” but to recognize undocumented and documented immigrants as dignified, to acknowledge their labor but more than that our worth, and to fight for justice.
For a long time I lived in the shadows, afraid to be public not only of my status but with my dreams. It’s being afraid to live or feel like justice will never be on our side.
Years back my family and I witnessed a robbery; men rushed into the store with guns and as we were about to check out, we were frozen. My dad stood alone as they asked the cashier for money. When the cops arrived we left before they asked us for our names as witnesses. It was as if we were never there. It was as if once again, we didn’t exist in that moment in time. It wasn’t until years later that a lawyer explained to my mom that we could have qualified for U-Visas. Yet because it was never written down, for the fear of our names being in a police statement or wanting to leave a traumatizing event as soon as we could.
I think there are so many instances in the lives of marginalized community where this happens but, our existence isn’t defined by others, by papers, by the history that is written over and over again by others.
I know I belong even before a pathway to citizenship.
I know my dreams are worth pursuing even with the end of DACA.
I know I exist because every fall and winter I see my breathe against the chill breeze.
I know my feelings are valid because I have felt them.
I know my truths are real, even if not everyone has witnessed the 22 years of my existence.
I know my family is living as I hear their laughter mixed with English & Spanish accents and experiences.
I know the legacy of my family, even if migration has changed the route.
My dream to become an attorney has been this dreams since I was very young. My teachers laughed and said “sure.” When I was in eighth grade that changed as I found home in hospitals, and peace with doctors and nurse. As time went on though, and I became my own advocate I realized that being the bridge and fighting for the dignity and rights of others was my true calling. My dreams include writing, being an attorney, and working in non-profit organizations that empower my community and fight for educational equity. My dreams are tied to my parents’ dreams of earning a formal education and becoming who I’ve always wanted to be.
Maybe I don’t write everyday, maybe I don’t protest or march at every event, maybe I don’t always share my story or have the perfect thing to say, and maybe I don’t understand every legislation or attend every event but my existence is resistance.
The very fact that I am alive is testament to a reason. I have a purpose and am capable of more because my parents taught me to love, to live, but most importantly to fight for what I believe in.
So today I stand tall and rise because I will resist by existing, by pursuing my dreams and becoming the person I am supposed to. Today while the DACA program may no longer exist, I choose to continue advocating for immigrants.
Today I ask you to do the same. Fight for the rights of all immigrants, because immigrant rights are human rights.