Chicago Spring: May Day

Undocumented Youth: March on May 1st

I remember my uncle being detained. I was 11 years old living in Dallas, Texas. I had only been in the U.S. for three years. I remember conversations between my mom and my aunt about what do next. We couldn’t ignore the fact that my uncle who I had just played at the park with last week was now behind bars facing deportation. My tia did not know what to do. She was going insane thinking of what this meant for their future here or in Mexico. None of us really knew what to do. She needed my uncle and they needed the jobs they had cleaning offices at night.

My uncle was deported soon after. I knew this as I heard my aunt on the phone making plans for when she went back to join him. I haven’t seen either of them since.

A 14-year old, Victoria, is set to be deported after her a mother filed a restraining order against someone whom ICE was looking for and therefore became a target herself.Victoria and her mother are now in deportation proceedings simply for trying to seek safety and ask for protection. Victoria has spent her last 11 birthdays here. This is her home, and she has dreams of becoming a veterinarian. However, Victoria and her mother will most likely be back on their way to Argentina because of inaction.

People are being deported every day. Obama has deported more than 400,000 thousand people, more than any other president, just during his first term in office.

Mothers and fathers are being stripped away from their families, ripped away from their children and the life they have created for themselves here in the United States. Every day, we are called illegal aliens, told to get in the back of a non-existent line, and not seen as real people.

Sometimes, it’s easy to ignore this in Chicago. But we must not forget that people in this country want us out of our homes and some even want us dead. They would have undoubtedly tried to shoot my mom and uncle at the border as they were running and hiding to get here.

We need to stand up for ourselves.

Those spewing anti-immigrant hate can’t silence us unless we let them. We may not have our papers, but we have our freedom. Of speech.Of assembly.

On May Day (May 1st), we will use our voices and our bodies to stand up for ourselves because we don’t have anything to be ashamed of. Let’s prove them wrong. We are undocumented, but we are not powerless or defenseless.

If I could talk to my 11 year old self, I would say to not start buying into the sense of immobility that began when my uncle was deported and continued to when I was dealing with being undocumented in high school.

The first march I ever went to was the 2006 May Day march in downtown Chicago. I couldn’t believe the number of people that came out against the proposed Sensenbrenner Bill. The march did not feel like it was for me or my fight. At the time, as I was struggling with my undocumented identity, but now I know that it had an immense effect on the person I have become. Because of rallies and protest I have attended, I view it a duty to be out and use my voice.

Undocumented people have difficult days ahead and there are plenty of things that we can’t do. We can’t get a license, we can’t vote, we can’t travel, we can’t get financial aid for school. But we can do this. We can march. We can be loud. We can speak for ourselves and proudly say, “You don’t know me and you can’t define me because that is still mine.” We can get our stories right.

The right to protest cannot be taken away from us. Chicago is ready to stand up. Immigrants, laborers, students, and everyone else will be ready to take the streets. Undocumented people have a choice to fight and I urge every undocumented person who reads this to come out on May 1st. Let’s position ourselves in history. Will you remain quiet while people are suffering, being deported, and denied access to education? I choose no, and I invite you to do the same.

Jorge Mena


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