Undocumented, unafraid, unapologetic

On March 10th, 2011 undocumented youth will be coming out of the shadows again. While we are still working on the details of what it will look like this year, we know that what we want to say is that we are still undocumented and unafraid, and this year are adding unapologetic.

This is an excerpt from a speech by Alaa Mukahhal (also the designer of our beautiful image to the left), made days before the defeat of the DREAM Act, which nevertheless expresses how many of us feel as we move forward:

We’ve seen this scene unfold a hundred times it seems. We stood in front of the door of hope only to have it shut closed so many times it’s beginning to feel like déjà vu. Haven’t we walked down this road before? I wonder what’s it going to take to pass this act. What do I have to do to show you the urgency of the situation? Do we have to wait for a disaster to happen before we are shocked into action? How many more families have to be separated, how many more futures suppressed and swept under the rug, how many more youth have to cut open their veins to show you that their blood flows thick with the American Spirit? Do I have to get arrested and beaten, do I have to get deported and defeated; tell me, what’s it going to take?

How dare you hire my parents as your laborers and gardeners, housekeepers and farmers, and turn around look at me in the eye and say I have no right to be here, that all I gave and earned means nothing to you because I’m “illegal,” a man-made status, and in the same breath tell me you expect us at your door 8 am sharp because that roof needs to be fixed before winter starts.

You hire us to lay down your path in brick and stone, silver and gold then deny us the chance to build our own, tell us to quickly and quietly finish the work and stay in the shadows, in the back rooms, where the guests won’t look as you loudly rail against the “illegal folk.”

I don’t know even know where I’m going to be next year, next month, next week, what even the next hour will bring because it only takes five minutes to get arrested. What’s it going to take?

I can feel the anger and bitterness build up as I waste my time and all I can do is look at my hands and know I’m capable of so much more. These are the hands of immigrants, the underlying fire of our country’s economy, the hands that laid the foundations for this land, the hands that plowed the fields, picked the fruit, and worked jobs that broke our backs for wages you’d never accept. These are the hands that gave you the luxury to wonder if we’re a priority, if this issue even qualifies as a crisis. We can’t afford that luxury; our only choice is to keep working. Failure was never an option. We have to do whatever it takes or perish.

Don’t make excuses for yourself, because blaming me for your problems is the coward’s way out. It’s easy to scapegoat people who don’t look like you. Get up, get moving, and start working; I’m offering you my hand, we’ll fix this country together. I can do more, I want to do more, and I’m an asset to this country, a resource, so make use of me but don’t refuse or deny me. Just tell me what’s it going to take?

I’ll tell you what it’s going to take. It’s going to take the eleven-year-old boy in Arizona whose mother was deported leaving him alone with his brothers, and instead of wallowing in the pain he registers voters. It’s going to take the immigrant from Florida who travels the country, from DC to Cali with barely enough to survive fighting for immigrant rights so he can one day serve in the military. It’s going to take the detained college students in Phoenix, in California, in Georgia, in Texas, who don’t have papers but but have the resilience of a thousand soldiers. It’s going to take the migrant workers, the recent immigrants, and the long time citizens.

It’s going to take all of us to realize when the undocumented immigrant’s rights are waived then the citizen’s rights will surely follow. We can no longer wait for our paths to be unblocked and for our futures to be handed back to us. The time is long overdue. We are undocumented, unafraid, and unapologetic in our pursuit for equal opportunity, and we know exactly what it’s going to take.

Listen to Alaa’s entire speech here.

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