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NCDOT announced today DACA licenses will no longer have a pink stripe, will keep "No Lawful Status"

NCDOT announced today DACA licenses will no longer have a pink stripe, will keep “No Lawful Status”

“No Lawful Status” with “Legal Presence”? Regular license instead of pink license? None of that matters because we are no longer afraid! 

by Jose Torres-Don

As an undocumented DACA eligible youth I welcome this license as an opportunity. For us it has not been about what color our drivers licenses are. The truth is that our fight for the DACA drivers licenses has been more about empowerment in our everyday lives to take control of who we are and not let anyone tell us what our place is or is not.

We are taking these licenses knowing that the biggest and most important battle is the one in our head that leads us to our own individual liberation independent of politicians, policies (or lack of), anti-immigrant groups and anything and anyone in between.

Ultimately our perseverance comes from knowing that we are valuable and that no matter how negative the anti-immigrant rhetoric is, we are human beings and we will no longer engage in the dehumanizing process of living in the “shadows”…something that politicians on both sides of the aisle have advanced. We do not need a specific color on a license to tell us, and the rest of North Carolina, who we are. We are undocumented, we are no longer afraid and do not wish to hide that neither by being silent nor by being issued a regular license.

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We seek to drive without fear, to challenge the idea that we should remain in the shadows and to challenge the idea that this is about an “us” vs “them”. Instead, we want to have a real and honest conversation about how being undocumented is a problem and how we can find equitable and reasonable solutions that work for North Carolina. We look forward to having a bigger conversation about the enlightened self-interest for people in public office to not be bullied by radical anti-immigrant groups and instead see the value in moving North Carolina forward that is inclusive of the Hispanic community. We cannot promise the “hispanic vote”, we won’t promise that to any party, however, the national leadership of the GOP has signaled where the starting line is for Republicans of reasonable minds. It starts with seeing the value of the opportunity over the issue of immigration and proactively bidding for a broader base.

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Hello! My name is Alejandra. I live in Liberty, NC. I’m 18 years old and I am undocumented.

I was brought to this country when I was only 13 months old. I’ve been here basically all my life and now I have the chance to help my family! My mom has been driving without a driver’s license since 2007. In these past six years, she hasn’t been able to go out anywhere without being afraid of getting pulled over. She’s gotten pulled over twice already. But what can she do? She has to work in order for us to eat and she can’t be looking for a ride all the time. Everyone has their own life and we can’t always be looking for people to take us places.
This is why I can’t wait to get my pink license! I don’t like the idea that everyone who I show my driver’s license to will know my immigration status. The truth is I’m tired though. I’m tired of hiding that I am undocumented. My immigration status does not determine my worth. As of March 25th, I too will drive without fear! I wont be scared when a cop pulls up behind me on my my way to work, afraid he’ll check my plate to find that I’ve been previously pulled over for no driver’s license . More importantly, I’ll be able to drive my mom where she needs to go. Pink stripe or no pink stripe, I’m ready for my driver’s license!

Viridiana is in JROTC at Enloe High. Her dream is to join the Navy.

Viridiana is in JROTC at Enloe High. Her dream is to join the Navy.

I’m undocumented: my parents brought me, my brother, and my sister to the United States when I was only 7 years old. We were looking for a better life. I remember when we first got here I was very excited about learning a new language but more than anything to see my father again.

The excitement only lasted a couple of years though because around when I turned 10, we stopped going out. You know, the things all families do: dine out or go to the mall or take trips to the beach. It was all because my father’s driver’s license had expired and we couldn’t risk driving around because he could get pulled over at any time. My mother lost her job and wasn’t able to get a new one because she doesn’t have a social security number - she’s also undocumented. Soon my brother and sister graduated from high school, but they couldn’t keep on with their education because they were undocumented as well.

Little by little, I realized what having “no lawful status” means. My plans, my dreams of joining the army or becoming a psychologist were fading away because I knew there was no way of moving forward with my life and going to college is going to be almost impossible. It seemed as if, as soon as I got out of high school, I would be stuck flipping burgers for the rest of my illegal life. I used this as an excuse for not doing well in school. In fact, going to school became pointless for me and I’m pretty sure for many others like me too. We don’t drop out because we don’t want to be in school. We give up because we don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

This is my last year of high school and I thank God for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Now after high school, just like my other friends with papers, I will have the luxury of several job options. I look forward to attending college or joining the Navy and obtaining a driver’s license. My senior year has been totally different from what I expected it to be: I have joined the JROTC program at Enloe High! I have better grades in my classes because I now look forward to a better future.

Viridiana at the We Need Our License Back rally at the NCDOT.

Viridiana at the We Need Our License Back rally at the NCDOT.

There is, however, one part of the licenses we’re going to be issued that I don’t really like. The North Carolina DMV has decided to mark the licenses of DACA beneficiaries with a pink stripe on top and other unnecessary labels that make our licenses look different from the rest. I think this difference will only create situations that will often lead to ethnic prejudice every time we need to show our licenses. It’s possible that the authorities will use our distinctive license against us.

Although my license will be looking different from those of my friends, I am still very thankful that I’ll be able to drive legally in North Carolina, and not only me but my siblings too. This license will make the state of North Carolina safer by letting us drive legally and authorized. To me the color and “No Lawful Status” label added to the license won’t stop me from getting one; they could even make our licenses triangle shaped, rainbow colored or any other thing to mark a difference between us and those with papers. As long as I can drive, work, go to college and accomplish my goals legally in this state, that is what matters.

Ungrateful? No. I’d say I’m realistic. I have decided I will not be getting a pink license. This decision has not only surprised my friends but also my family. I understand that by not getting one not only will it affect me but also them. The truth is I have been discriminated against for the past thirteen years that I’ve lived in this country. I’m sick and tired of it. On March 25th, I plan to come out publicly about my immigration status because I refuse to be further discriminated, but more importantly because I refuse to continue to live in the shadows and afraid. I will continue to drive without a license and I will do so without fear. 

Monserrat at Securing Our Own Families Training

Monserrat at Securing Our Own Families Training

I thank my friends, family, teammates and all of those who supported us the dreamers back in January when we were fighting to get our license. I was one of those who were at the rallies, demanding equal rights. I never thought that we would be issued licences that brand us and single us out in red letters: “No Lawful Status”. Why not “Legal Presence” instead? After all, we do hold legal presence.

I’ve been in this country for thirteen years. I’ve missed my grandparents’ birthdays and their funerals. I’ve missed Mexico too. I’ve been asked before why I don’t just go back. I don’t go back because I’m not giving up. I have dreams and goals I want to achieve. Also, my family is here. But living in the US has not been easy. Fourth grade was hard - I got bullied because I speak English with an accent. In middle school, the problem was my skin color. And in high school.. well that’s when I realized what it means to be illegal. It was during junior and senior year that I understood everything perfectly. Not only was my skin color the problem, but also my immigration status. Senior year, while everyone was filling out their college applications, a classmate who was also illegal and I were the only ones not doing it. Not because we didn’t want to but because we couldn’t. I will never forget what I felt during that time.

Monserrat at the We Want Our License Rally at the NCDOT

Monserrat at the We Want Our License Rally at the NCDOT

We all have decisions to make and I know that at the end of the day a license is a license, and boy do I need it. But.. no, thank you. I have decided not to get a pink license because I refuse to allow anyone else to single me out, bully me, or make me feel less human and less of a person because of my immigration status. This will not keep me from driving, however. I will be driving without fear!

As part of the NC Dream Team, I believe in the power of organizing. I believe in the power of my community to stand up and fight back. Whether you have to get a pink license or you choose not to, I encourage you to DROP THE FEAR. What matters is that we drop the fear of ICE or the police and acknowledge the power we have as a community to fight back. On March 25th, I am driving without fear. Will you be there? Will you drop the fear?

What: Driving Without Fear / Manejando Sin Miedo Rally

Where: DMV on 2431 Spring Forest Road, North Raleigh, NC, 27615

Time: 3 pm

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Photo by Victoria Bouloubasis

 

by Amy Fischer

 

North Carolina’s new policy for issuing licenses for DACA beneficiaries has made national news. People seem to be up in arms looking for ways to do something about the now infamous pink (or is it fuchsia?) stripe. Some religious and advocacy organizations have started encouraging allies to put pink tape on their licenses as an act of solidarity. While I appreciate the sentiment, I, as an ally will not be doing this to my license.

The last time I wrote a blog post about my experience as an ally, I wrote about the fear that I hold for my friends who drive without licenses. I told the story of a friend who would drive without fear, partly because she had to get around and had no other option, but also because she trusted the power of fighting back in case anything were to happen.

As a member of NC DREAM Team, I have had the privilege of speaking with a bunch of people who will be receiving these  pink licenses. One person, who is a junior in high school, has told me how he and his parents have been counting down the days until March 25th because this serves as an opportunity for somebody in their family to actually have a drivers license. He says the pink stripe is wrong; he is by no means happy about it. But to him, a license is a license. He and his parents have a whole list of things that they are going to do, and will be able to do, now that there is a license in the family. Alternatively, I’ve heard the story of a young woman who says she will not be getting one of these licenses. She says that she has felt discriminated against all of her life because of her immigration status, and this is just one more instance of her being singled-out and treated wrongly. She says she will continue driving without a license and without fear.

In both of these cases, and the many more in-between, I honestly can’t relate. And putting a bit of pink tape on my license will not change this . I will not get pulled over and questioned about my status because the license in my wallet has tape on it. I won’t feel the sting of the hatred of the anti-immigrant rhetoric that refers to my friends as criminals and demands that they “get out.” And while this may be an over-generalization, for most of the folks that I have seen taping their licenses in solidarity, they seem to be the types that rarely have to take their licenses out of their wallets anyway. We don’t look suspicious. We would probably get waved right through a check point in our neighborhoods because our skin color does not evoke a threat to people’s comfort levels.

I’m not putting pink tape on my license because my solidarity comes from standing with my immigrant friends and supporting their organizing efforts, not from a lame attempt to pretend like I know what it’s like to be undocumented or singled out because of my immigration status. My solidarity allows for undocumented youth to speak for themselves, not for clergy and advocates to attempt to co-opt a struggle that isn’t theirs. Yes, this new policy is unjust. And it’s great that so many people seem fired up about it. But, if you want to do something about it, consult with the people who are directly  affected to see how you can stand in solidarity.

To start, join us on March 25th. That’s the first day these pink licenses are being issued, and DACA youth and their families will be speaking out at 3:30pm at the DMV at 2431 Spring Forest Road North Raleigh, Unit 101, NC 27615. See you there.

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  • @joshabla xoxoxo!#FWYH 15 hours ago
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