On March 10th, 2012 seven undocumented youth and one ally came out of the shadows to talk about their experiences with the immigration system. This is the third year that Chicago launches the National Coming Out of the Shadows Week, focused on declaring that we are “undocumented, unafraid, and unapologetic.” These year’s theme was “I define myself.” Our next event takes place tomorrow, Friday March 16th where another set of undocumented youth, parents, and their allies, will come out of the shadows.
“I’m that young adult who strives daily to continue his education. Applying for as many scholarships as he can hoping to get them and working two jobs with the fear of losing them because of not having a social security number. I am a good student, I am a good son, I am a good brother, I am a good friend, I am a good human being! I am that person that like all of us here, deserves to pursue his dreams. I define myself: My name is Hugo Dominguez, I am undocumented, unafraid and unapologetic.”
“I saw a mother being taken away from her little kid by an officer. I remember her screams, her crying out to her son, her holding on to that little boy’s hand so tight and her perseverance to stay with him, which only reminded me more of my brother and how I didn’t want to lose him. As much as I wanted to help them, I felt helpless. I didn’t want to be separated from my family, not then and not now! Coming to this country was a challenge and I soon realized that living here would be one too…I was angry with my parents for bringing me here when I never asked them to, but now I don’t blame them. They only wanted better and more opportunities for us. And even though I know there are more challenges ahead, I know I’ll get through them just as I have before. I define myself: My name is Jocelyn, I’m undocumented, unafraid and unapologetic.”
“During the ten months I was gone my country deported over 300,000 human beings, my wife could’ve been one of them. To think that the country I fought overseas for could also take my wife away while I was gone is ridiculous – the same country that could’ve deported my family while I was gone. My wife shouldn’t have to worry about being deported before I get home, if I get home. I shouldn’t have to worry about my own government taking her away from me… My name is David [Martinez] and I’m an ally.”
“As an army wife I gave a service to this country, through each phone call, text message, Skype session and letter, I made sure to provide my soldier with the love and support that he needed. Now that he’s home, I feel like the least I deserve is to live with my husband, without fear…I want to feel independent and capable of providing for my family. I’m strong and I will keep fighting until politicians stop playing games with my life. If they continue saying that I’m a criminal in this society, I will continue to prove them wrong! I’m a valuable human being, Army wife, and graduate student.I define myself: My name is Fanny [Lopez-Martinez]. I’m undocumented, unafraid and unapologetic!”
“It wasn’t until the rejection of the DREAM Act 15 months ago that I finally came to realize that I could no longer sit and wait for politicians to do the right thing. I can no longer be a spectator, I refuse to be marginalized or have my parents plead guilty. To me, the only criminal is the system and those that support it are guilty! I define myself: My name is Xanat [Sobrevilla], I’m undocumented unafraid and unapologetic.”
“I will not let my struggles my dreams and my existence be pushed aside or be used in the name of politics. My life is not a political token. As a human being I have a right to be happy, we all do. I invite you to stand up and fight with me for the justice we deserve. The government can attempt to take away our rights but it cannot take our will to fight. I define myself: My name is Yaxal [Sobrevilla], I’m undocumented, unafraid and unapologetic.”
“My aunt died nearly two weeks ago and she was buried in Michoacan Mexico. It reminded me of my great-grandmother’s death and how then as now I could not visit their burials. I feel disconnected from those realities, sad and frustrated by their unfairness, and it is experiences like this that re-affirm the injustice of our current immigration system. I speak to you today, despite my fears and doubts, we should not live in fear of the everyday. My name is Jose [Martinez] and I define myself: I’m undocumented, unafraid and unapologetic.”
“I look forward to the day when I can finally be able to apply to medical school, when I can finally drive my girlfriend to school, rather than always having to rely on her, when I can freely travel the world and for the first time visit my family in Mexico. So that in the future I can serve as a doctor saving lives. I know that the struggles ahead only continue to look worse but I will not give up! I will continue to fight for my education, my family, my community and for my rights as a human being. I define myself: My name is Emmanuel [Cordova], I’m undocumented, unafraid and unapologetic.”
A big thanks to Peter Holderness for recording and editing the stories, and to Reyna Wences for editing the post.