My name is Rossette valladares and I am undocumented.
Over two decades ago my family came to this country in hopes of a better life. I’m 22 and at my age my mother carried me in her arms. I was 8 months old when we crossed the border. In her stories and words she was always running. It happened a long time ago that she ran across the border away from border patrol. To this day her voice still shakes like her knees when she tells her story of when she ran with me. With fear and determination my mother ran.
At a young age I knew the difficulty of the life we lived. Every choice or move I made was done with the weight of my undocumented status on me. Every friend I made as a child I greeted with the fear of having to tell them one day that I’m “illegal”. Being criminalized at such a young age was hard. I was always running from the truth of my situation that had no resolve. I always made my status a secret. I thought anyone could deport my family and I when I was little.
The knot in my throat for every for every set back or let down came often. I knew asking my mother for permission to go on a plane along with my classmates for the 8th grade graduation trip was silly because if I had gone on a plane with the rest of my classmates for that school fieldtrip I would risk not being able to come back and see my mom or the rest of my family. I would sit and stare blankly in classrooms feeling apathetic. I existed quietly and insignificantly, because i thought i had to.
I knew that even though I tried really hard in school it wouldn’t amount to anything tangible because I wouldn’t be able to insert my nonexistent social security number on to college applications or anything on paper that required that nine digit number. My heart broke everyday for the dreams I always had but knew would not be able to attain. For every aspiration I had there was a wall. A wall that stood tall and impenetrable, a wall I was too afraid to climb.
For too long I have lived a life of fear and shame. But today in front of my community and family I rid myself of the fear and shame of living a free life. I am undocumented. I’m not sorry my family brought me here. I stand here not running with the same will that my mother had when she ran across the border.
I am here today coming out of the shadow of my oppressors and into the lights of libertad.
Rossette is a board member of Amigas Latinas and Amiguitas, a nonproﬁt organization that connects queer Latinas with community resources. She is also an organizer with Chicago Dyke March Collective, which is how she got her start as a community organizer. Rosette read her story at the National Coming Out of the Shadows rally in Chicago, on March 10th, 2013.