Image by J. Valas

My name is Cynthia Martinez. That’s me in the picture above at my first rally ever. And it was the first time I “came out” too. For the first time ever, I shouted out my immigration status. “My name is Cynthia Martinez and I am Undocumented and I am no longer afraid!” I had chosen to come out of the shadows and leave my comfort zone. I had chosen to take a stand. Along with seven other undocumented young people from across North Carolina, I sat down at an intersection in Charlotte. We refused to stand up. We were then arrested and semi-processed. I say semi-processed because immigration officials processed us but later “dropped our immigration charges”. And they did so because they felt pressured by the publicity that followed this action. ICE is afraid when you and me come together and take a stand. It’s time more of us took a stand too

Image by Justin Valas

I live in Sanford, North Carolina. Here, because my family and I are Hispanic, we are constantly targeted by local law enforcement. I grew up in Sanford since the age of two and given so, I think it’s safe to say that I consider this my home and community.

I am fully aware of the different laws and regulations that are established to keep me and my community in the shadows. Such programs include the Secure Communities policy (active in all 100 counties in North Carolina) and the community colleges admissions policy, which includes Central Carolina Community College right here in Sanford. Not being able to obtain a drivers license to drive legally is one among many more but right now it seems to be the biggest upset within my community.

Here in Lee County, the 287(g) program has not been implemented but something just as bad has occurred. We have become apathetic to the idea that running into road blocks is normal and getting a ticket is just part of it. We haven’t stopped to realize that maybe programs such as 287(g) haven’t been established here not because we are actually “liked” but because we contribute by paying ticket after ticket after ticket and in cases paying lawyers to handle traffic infractions, most due to driving without a license or an expired license. How much money hasn’t gone to the growth of Sanford obtained from inconvenient fees such as these traffic tickets? And the police are strategic about where they station themselves when they set up these license check points. There’s often one near my house where many Hispanic people live! Looks like racial-profiling to me.

Image by Justin Valas

Well it’s time that Sanford wake up to the injustices that surround our community where on top of paying federal, state, and local taxes we are still forced to pay for a ridiculous amount of tickets that we wouldn’t have to pay if we were able to obtain a license. Yet after all of this we are still told that we have to pay out of state tuition to go to the community college here in town. Does this make any sense? That while we contribute to our community, our local and state governments implement these harsh laws and policies? This is not right, it is not just.

We came to this country searching for a better future, for the right as human beings to go to school, to drive, to walk freely in our towns that we contribute to with every paycheck yet we hit a wall when we try to practice these rights. It is time that we as a community start standing up for our rights. This is a problem that affects us all for everyone once lived it. Whether it was pilgrims who came to this land fleeing religious persecution, the Native Americans who were killed by those pilgrims that were once persecuted, African Americans who were enslaved and in many ways still are, Asians who were sent to concentration camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, people from the Middle East who were targeted after 9-11 and Latinos who are racially profiled among other things every day. Everyone has lived it. Will you sit and watch as injustices keep happening or will you stand and take action as I have? The choice is yours.

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