Frustrations on being undocumented

In order to clear up my mind i have decided to compile a list of the frustrations i run into on a semi daily basis.

These are specific to growing up undocumented.

It helps to get them out of my head. Here i can see them and figure out how to get around them, instead of having them come out in tears or bursts of misplaced anger.

Frustration #1

I am tired of feeling trapped in this country. Though i love the people in the US i have an urge to travel and know things beyond these borders. So many things to see, to eat, people to meet and laugh with. But i hold back, knowing quite well that leaving might mean not being able to come back, and everything i know is here- my family, my friends, my community- so i stay. I stay and i die a little bit, held by the very bonds that have helped me to become who i am. 

Frustration #2

I can’t take my friends hitchhiking with me. I know they want to travel, but without licenses, social security numbers, or state ids the risk of ending up in a jail goes up, as does the risk of being asked where you are from and inadvertently giving our statuses away, leading to a deportation.

Frustration #3

Having limitations placed on me based on where i was born.

Frustration #4

Placing limitations on myself based on those of society.

Frustration #5

Feeling unwanted in the country. A feeling reinforced by the increased raids and deportations, and by the outright lies about immigrants and immigration that i run into in the media and ordinary people (who probably get them from the media). It provokes a “So you think you don’t need us? Fine, wait till we get tired of your exploitation and insults, you’ll pay the price like Riverside, new jersey.” For those who don’t remember this (or never heard of it),  check out this article: Town rethinks laws against [undocumented] immigrants.

Frustration #6

I am angry; so angry that sometimes all i remember are these frustrations. I have to make list to remember all the positive things about being here.

Frustration #7

Not being able to get arrested in acts of civil disobedience. There are plenty of things i think need change, but the risk is too high when you are not a citizen.

Frustration #8

Getting a trespassing ticket for sleeping in a park and feeling like my life was over because i could get deported. It made me rethink traveling, and i never want to question that decision.

Frustration #9

Crying over the phone outside a public library to over 10 lawyers asking for advice on how to handle the ticket. The majority did not know, once they could understand me through my sobs, or did not have free consults over the phone.

Frustration #10

Feeling forced to pay a lawyer to fix the situation with the ticket. The court was in new york. I was no longer there. I had heard stories of people going in for traffic violations and ending up on ICE’s custody somehow. I didn’t want a warrant in NY.

Frustration #11

Seeing my other two friends with tickets just ignore them, since the ticket would probably get thrown out and the only consequence for them would be to spend some time in jail.

Frustration #12

I can’t go to Canada and come back.

Frustration #13

I can’t go to Mexico and see the rest of my family, and then come back.

Frustration #14

I am afraid to go to Mexico and confirm that i do not know anyone there any more. That all my relatives are stories and pictures from a past i don’t really remember, and the people that now hold their identity are complete strangers to me.

Frustration #15

I am angry at my citizen friends for not taking advantages of their privileges to help out those of us who do not have them.

Frustration #16

I am angry at my citizen friends for having these privileges.

Frustration #17

I am angry at being angry at my friends. I love them and all i can do is repeat to myself “This is just misplaced anger, this is just misplaced anger, this is just misplaced anger, this is just misplaced anger… ”

Frustration #18

Being affected so much by a state that is so out of my control. I did not choose to be undocumented, and anywhere else i would not be. I have no idea what will happen when we get legalization, what does citizenship feel like?

Frustration #19

Seeing my friends sad and tired of the way society treats undocumented people. (positive note: we’re fighting back)

Frustration #20

Seeing my community in fear of enforcement tactics by ICE

Frustration #21

Seeing our efforts and contributions dismissed by some as if we were not an integral part of society and important parts of our communities.

There are so many, many more…. now to solve them.

What are some of your frustrations? And what are your ideas about how to solve them?

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Debra says:

I am a “white,” non-Latina advocate. I am glad you have a safe space to come out about how you feel in this culture of oppression. I read your postings and my heart weeps. You do not deserve to be treated this way.
I believe you have the right to claim your citizenship and your identity with pride, not despair. I have not given up. I write and speak out against your “criminilization.” I will not give up. Know that I am only one of the many, many advocates you have. Know that I am not ashamed to walk with you, nor afraid to fight bigotry on your behalf. I am not a powerful person, but I will continue to work for your right to citizenship.

M says:

I am extremely frustrated at being aware that my humanity is configured by a nine digit number that in the end does not make me more or less of a person. Frustrated at being criminalized and looked down upon, rejected and even hated for wanting a better life without hurting anyone. Feeling that after some many years in this country ya ni soy de aqui o de alla – I am from nowhere. I am frustrated with the impotency to help my parents after I see them toil day in and day out and even more frustrated to see life and hope disappear from their eyes as they blame themselves for bringing me here. Aggravated by the “pull yourself by your boot straps” or “go to the back of the line” attitude anti-immmigration individuals pull on people like me and on groups like IYJL. I am at the back of the line – in fact I am outside the building where the line forms with my boots on but with the straps missing.

my frustrations. says:

1. not being able to eloquently describe my dilemma. everything’s easily fixed in my peoples’ minds by, well just go get a visa, well just go become a citizen, well i don’t see what the problem is. sometimes /i/ don’t even know how to explain myself….

2. the blatant racism and stereotypes that come to the surface when people are astonished to realize that a “white,” accent-less person is an illegal immigrant.

3. being told in the 4th grade that i could also be a president one day, but knowing that this wasn’t the case.

4. being unable to get a job to help pay my way through university. yes — i got in — i knew i wouldn’t have the money — i went anyway — what happens when i can’t pay for next quarter?

5. i can’t just get /any/ job…. no. i have to find someone who is “nice enough” to pay me in cash under the table.

6. i can’t have a credit card. i can’t apply for loans. i’m too afraid to even try fafsa in the event that one day, if legislation is passed, i will be denied legalization because i appealed to the government for help. when i appeal to the financial aid office for help in working out a payment plan, they first all look at me like i’m an lazy and stupid for not completing the fafsa when i obviously qualify for aid.

7. people thinking that where i was born factors into my merit as a scholar, and somehow rationalizing that my 4.0 gpa means nothing when i am not /legal/.

8. needing to present a drivers license or state id for various reasons — signing into friends’ dorms, buying a pack of cigarettes, getting into a club or lounge — and then holding up the entire line because my international passport needs to be studied closely.

9. having a tax id number — paying taxes — though it is constantly inferred by the media that i do no such thing. earning a grant or scholarship constitutes as “stealing from the people.”

10. going through sophomore year in high school… driver’s education is a requirement, and there was one day in class where we were required to come in with our social security cards so we could obtain our driver’s permits. i felt so incredibly isolated that day.

11. finally obtaining an internship at a local campaign office…. being unable to submit the petition papers i worked hard for because i am not a citizen. working harder than most citizens would ever work towards democracy, though i cannot exercise the simple ability to vote.

13. being so frustrated with my friends who don’t care to vote because they take it for granted.

14. having to contemplate ridiculous ideas so i could get out of this situation…. my boyfriend and i have been dating for a year and discussed marriage so that i could get out of this rut. is it fair that we feel pushed into this decision? is it fair that i’m objectifying marriage as a business transaction as opposed to a spiritual connection my partner and i should both feel we’re ready for?

15. feeling cultureless, identity-less. i speak my “native language” with an american accent, and i am hardly literate in it. most of my families are strangers to me, and neither of my parents could have the peace of mind in burying their deceased parents back home. though my parents taught the culture to me, my personal connection is to the american culture. but i am not considered american enough….

16. the guilt and anxiety my parents feel every day. the couldn’t have possibly known what this would all lead to. all my dad ever did was work so that i could have the best.

17. questioning my motives every day — am i succeeding just because i’m just angry and bitter?

— this was much longer than i thought it would be… sorry.

David Morales says:

Fustration:
Even with all of their good intentions our friends that are citizens don’t understand the chaos of being undocumented. they can sympathize but not empathize.

billy g says:

being and undocumented my self, I feel and share your pain, I came full of dreams, and my own employer broke my visa terms to exploit me as an illegal, I could not suit him because did not have money for legal fees and most of lawyers don’t have experience dealing with workers compensation when immigrations law are involved, I tried to be a voluntary at the school the help the community and give back, they try to run a criminal records screening and I got scared…, with my skills I have plenty of job offers but the department of labor requires an immigration status check for employees, I tried to work my self as a freelancer and same rule is in place…, is that fair?, I came legally I was framed by my employer still as he requested my status was tied to him…, still I pay my taxes, I follow the law and I’m grateful with this experience, I just pray for a chance to behave like a proud citizen

rising says:

frustration: as much as we try to stop it- seeing these made up boundaries,labels, and limitations (but very real privileges and consequences) bleed into our lives and relationships and we begin to lose one another.

ed says:

The desire of going to the university of my dreams and not being able to get financial aid.

Anonymous says:

Not being able to help my girlfriend become a citizen through marriage because gay marriage isn’t recognized nationally and therefore doesn’t grant the same power to keep her here with me in this country.

me says:

no one should be undocumented, or denied the right to express their love. all people should be equal, and have equal rights.