My name is Fanny and I am undocumented.
My sister, my mother and I crossed the border 10 years ago and we reunited with my father after being separated for almost three years. I went to Fenton High School in Bensenville, IL and last year I graduated from Dominican University. Not being eligible for work, even with a degree in Sociology, I decided to apply for graduate school. I was very fortunate to be accepted to the Public Policy School at the University of Chicago. Thanks to my family, many allies, and to my hard work, I obtained scholarships and was able to continue with my education. Unfortunately, there are many undocumented youth who, for many reasons, have limited opportunities and support, and this has prevented them from developing their potential to the fullest.
If deferred action is actually implemented as President Obama and Secretary Napolitano promised, then a good number of undocumented youth, like me, will experience a significant change in our lives. At least for two years, we will live without the fear of getting deported. If we receive our work permits, we could apply for a job. Those of us who have college degrees will finally be able to practice our careers. If we get a driver’s license, we will drive without the fear of getting stopped and arrested by the police. To some extent, some of our struggles will be minimized, but they won’t be eliminated because deferred action does not provide a pathway to citizenship.
There are many undocumented youth who will not benefit from deferred action, like those who are not DREAM Act eligible and those who might not get assistance because they are lost in detention or getting deported. And we cannot forget about them. Our parents will also not benefit from this. Now that I am expecting my first baby, I understand the fear and anxiety that many undocumented parents feel when they realize that they could be separated from their children. I have not held my baby yet, but I know that I would fight until the end to stop a person or institution from separating us. And I would do whatever I could to provide him or her with a better life. That is why I am proud of my parents. I don’t blame them for bringing me here or for my day to day struggles that come with my undocumented status.
I blame the broken immigration system and those who have the power to change it and yet refuse to do the right thing. It is because of them that I am still undocumented. So, I will never blame my parents for doing their best to support me. If it wasn’t for their courage and determination, I would not be here today. There are 1.2 million people like me: None of us would be here without our mothers and fathers who sacrificed for us. To all the undocumented parents, I want to say: THANK YOU!
Let’s also take a moment to applaud the sacrifices of undocumented youth who risked arrest and deportation by organizing and participating in direct actions. I want to specially recognize The NIYA (The National Immigrant Youth Alliance), a group of undocumented youth who organized civil disobediences across the country and “undoc-cupied” Obama campaign offices and pressured the President to act. He didn’t give us an executive order, but deferred action is a good start! Finally, thanks to all the allies for supporting our work and fighting by our side.
Even though I want us to be proud of deferred action because it is a big accomplishment for us, there is still a lot of work to be done. We, community organizers and legislators, have to keep pushing and fighting until we pass the DREAM Act and Comprehensive Immigration Reform. We also have to get rid of the 400,000 deportation quota that keeps separating families. And we must find a way to ensure that families are not torn apart by deportation! Let’s catch em before they get deported. Our work as organizers is not done, and the work of our political allies is not done either. We have a long way to go, but together we will succeed!
A speech given by Fanny López-Martínez, IYJL organizer, at DREAM Relief Day, August 15th 2012 @ Navy Pier
No Papers, No Fear – Ride For Justice: This summer, we are coming out of the shadows and getting on the bus. Our rights and our families are under attack and we’ve come too far to go back now.
Undocumented riders will come out publicly, support local people to build barrio defense, and perform peaceful protest and civil disobedience to challenge the promoters of hate and set an example of love and fearlessness from Arizona to the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina.
Undocumented Youth Still In Detention Or In Deportation Proceedings