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by Alicia Torres
Late on Tuesday night during my brother’s usual facebook scan for the latest on people’s life, he came across a post that he had to share with me. It was a post written by an ally (a person who holds US citizenship but is supposed to be a friend to the undocumented community) in which she vented her disagreement with the latest civil disobedience that took place in Arizona.
Although there are many things she wrote with which I disagree I want to focus on this one liner that she wrote: “I thought there was an internal agreement that the people protesting would always be college graduates” wrote advocate and ally, Carmen Cornejo. To me this statement echoes nothing more than a very big disconnect from the reality that we the undocumented community are living in. Currently only 12 states allow for undocumented youth to pay in-state tuition, of which Arizona is not one, and the number of states banning undocumented students from enrolling in colleges and universities is on the quick rise. The reality is that the majority of undocumented youth are not college graduates, meaning there is not that many to go around for our protests. But more importantly, you do not need a college degree to understand, to see, to feel the injustice that is being committed against us, our families, and our community. All it takes for many of us is to look across our dinner table and see our parent’s exhausted face sitting across from us. You may work with undocumented immigrants and even be friends with us but you will never feel the urgency with which we are currently living. This urgency that I speak of is one of needing to stop the injustices that on a daily basis plague our undocumented communities. This urgency is what pushes undocumented youth to drop the fear and come out as undocumented and unafraid. This urgency is what pushed the Arizona 6 to tell Arpaio we’re undocumented unafraid and we’re not backing down.
When a youth decides to be a apart of any coming out action it is the obligation of those around him or her to play a fully supportive role. You don’t have to agree but you do have to show support, and for the record questioning an act through which self empowerment will be the end result is not being supportive. For many of us it is our experience of coming out that allows us to meet eye to eye with our biggest fear and defeat it. There is no right or wrong age or level of education or criminal record background to come out, we come out because we have have been pushed to our limits and WE HAVE A CHOICE in either fighting back or curling in the corner. We the undocumented community are tired, angry, fed up and ready to fight back. We are from all walks of life. Some with higher education, 67% without one because we are being denied equal access to education but we all have a fire in our hearts and eyes that will burn until the chains of fear that have been placed upon our community are broken. We will do this through the self empowerment of our community. We are learning and teaching other undocumented youth along the way to own our voices, our stories, our lives. We are coming out as UNDOCUMENTED and UNAFRAID in a city near you.
Here in north Carolina, another state that does not offer instate tuition, the younger generation of undocumented youth are taking their cues from those that have decided to step up and fight back. They have experienced living in the shadows of not only a legal system but an educational system as well and and they are not willing to take it anymore. That is why they have decided to drop the fear and come out as undocumented and unafraid. For them it is their first step in the fight to regain their humanity and empower
themselves and their peers. We’re not rubbing politicians’ bellies, we’re taking direct action. These youth should be encouraged to come out and if and when they are ready to take that next step we’ll be there to encourage them and not slam another door in their face.