Monday, March 30, 2009

The Nightly Jog

I Came Out .Part 2

Carla's reaction was subtle. She said something along the lines of "Oh. But you're glad Obama won right?"

But then the focus went back to the elephant in the room.

Carla asked me how I had come to be undocumented, and I proceeded to explain. She said that she found this new revelation some what hard to accept due to the fact that I am so (as she put it) "Americanized".

"The system sucks" she said.

We've met a couple of times since I came out, and she always seems interested in some of the "logistics" behind being undocumented. We've touched upon everything from how I work, to relationship stuff. I appreciate the fact that she's very sensitive towards this subject and the impact it has had on my life.

She mentioned that she's met other undocumented immigrants, "but "she said, " you're the first one I met that was brought here so young; the other people I know came at a much older age and it was their choice."

Once again, "The system sucks."

After I revealed my "secret" identity, I also told Carla about the DREAM Act and what it stands for. Immediately she grasped the importance of this legislation and has become a big supporter of it.

Telling Carla the truth was a great cleansing experience for me, it liberated me from lying to one more person. There are still friends with whom I haven't been straight with, but the right time will come for them to know.

I'm not only grateful for the relief of getting this off my chest, but also for the immense support I found in my friend.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I Came Out

To my friend Carla. We were hanging out and during our conversation we got into a discussion on politics, which led to who we voted for. So instead of once again lying, I just told her.

I can't vote.
Oh you're not a citizen yet?
No actually I'm undocumented

It was pretty surprising how easy it was to say.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

DREAM is Introduced

I checked my email before heading out to work today. My inbox was full of messages saying that the DREAM Act was being introduced today. Needless to say my day flashed on by, and the overtime gods smiled upon me since I didnt have to stay past my eight hour day.

Now I'm looking at the screen of the SJSU library computer from which I am writing, and I see the following words:

"INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WANE) - U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar cosponsored the
Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. It was
introduced Thursday with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)."
-Emily Marini (

There it is, in cyber print. The DREAM Act was introduced today, March 26th 2009 by Senator Durbin and Senator Lugar. And I can barely type.

This isn't the first time that DREAM has been introduced, but it feels different this time around. More things in favor, but more importanly, more of us undocumented students are rising to the challange and organizing to push this.

So lets take a moment to enjoy DREAM's introduction.

But let's not forget this is only the initial step. The hard work now begins. We must call, email, fax and organize incessantly, in order for DREAM to be brought to the floor. And then we do it again so we can get the needed votes in favor to pass it.

After the bill is on President Obama's desk, then maybe, it will be time to start thinking about celebrating. Until then lets work our asses off!

Representative Zoe Lofrgen, Chairperson of the Immigration Subcommittee stated:

"As a nation, we face an increasingly competitive global market. To effectively compete in this new interconnected global market, we must ensure that we have the most educated workforce in the world. Whether in college or in the military, we must give all qualified young people the opportunity to get an education. These determined and dedicated young people need the chance to become productive members of our society. Penalizing them hurts us all"

Also this site allows you to email your representatives, please feel free to use it:

For more info on the DREAM Act please visit the following links:

DREAM Act (wikipedia)

The National Immigration Law Center basic information sheet

Also check out this great post by kyledeb over at Citizen Orage.

And dont forget to dial 202-224-3121 to be connected to your member of Congress. TELL THEM TO SUPPORT THE DREAM ACT.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tax man

I paid my taxes. Thats right. This "illegal" just paid income taxes to the federal government of the United States. It wasn't a huge amount (in the hundreds), yet it is just another sign of how i am a leech to society. I paid taxes when i filed under my ITIN, and when i bought groceries this week, CA took some 8% sales tax, then I also have money taken out from my pay which goes to the Social Security Administration. Money that I will never see again, and that is a nice buffer to the failed Social Security system.

So yeah. Thanks for the free ride.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I am not a number

Michelle is my younger sister. Born in the United States in 1992. We have a ten year age difference but she is my best friend. We laugh at the same stoopid jokes, love the same movies and TV shows, eat the same foods, and overall are essentially clones. When she was little I taught her how to play video games and now she has surpassed her teacher. Right now she is a Junior in High School and is a very active and successful student. A member of the drama club, writers guild, she's done cross country and is planning on joining the school choir. Her GPA is awesome.

But Michelle is what many would call an "anchor baby" (some twisted minds firmly believe that my parents conceived Michelle in an effort to wait 21 years so that she could petition them...yeah ok) and as a member of a mixed status family she is not insulated from the struggles, suffering and frustrations of the family.

She cried when in 2007 I was pulled over by the police, and was afraid that she would never see me. She feels my frustration when I have to go to my shitty jobs, because she knows I have a degree. She feels worried about our sister and her impending graduation from her University.

I once told her of my plans to get the following words tattooed on my forearm : I am not a number.

A few days ago she wrote the following:

I am not a number

Hard work , determination, dreams came crashing down, thrown from a high cliff. I too fall with them. All of a sudden a realization of what I am not.

(I am not a number) Nor am I a piece of paper, paper that will allow my life and potential to unfold. A number that will lead to a happy death. These, I am not.

And for not being, all is taken from me. My work, thoughts, hopes, dreams. My Life.

Denied I am, the right to prosper and live happily. Rejected, these things are to me. All because of what I am not.

I am not a number. Nor am I allowed - to live my life to its greatest extent. To accomplish all that I desire; to be what I aspire to be. All because of what I am not.

(I am not a number) but I am alive. A being that breathes, eats and hopes, like all other people. A being of great potential- denied.

I am also a person, to live free and at peace - happy. Not to memorize a number and deny having a soul. The same and equal as all other people, no more, no less.

Yet barred is the cage in which I am kept, from which the only escape is being thrown from a cliff, along with all I have tried to achieve. All because of what I am not.

I am not a number. But I am here and trying. Knowing my soul will sprout wings at the most opportune moment.

Something I could not do if I were not who I am. I am hope and dreams, work and love, human and soul. Proud of what I am not.

I am not a number

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A lesson from Harvey

I want to recruit you for the fight to preserve your democracy! Brothers and Sisters, you must come out! come out to your parents, come out to your friends, if indeed they are your friends, come out to your neighbors, come out to your fellow workers. Once and for all, let's break down the myth and destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake, for their sake. For the sake of all the youngsters who've been scared by the votes from Dade to Eugene. On the Statue of Liberty it says ' Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.' In the Declaration of Independence it is written, 'All me are created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights.' For Mr. Briggs and Mrs. Bryant and all the bigots out there, no matter how hard you try, you can never erase those words from the Declaration of Independence! No matter how hard you try you can never chip those words from the base of the Statue of Liberty! That is where America is!
-Harvey Milk
(San Francisco City Supervisor)

Mr. Milk was right. In his movement against Prop. 6 he implored members of the gay community to come out of the closet and reveal their sexual orientation. He believed that if the public realized how connected they were with the gay community, then they would offer their support. He was correct, the initiative was defeated on November 7, 1978 and even lost in the sponsors (John Briggs) own Orange County, a stronghold of conservatism in the state.

The undocumented student community must also come out. We must tell our stories to our teachers, our friends and anyone who is willing to listen. Because as Mr. Milk believed once they know one of us they they will support us 2 to 1.

Friday, March 20, 2009


The number of undocumented students that graduate from high school every year.

65,000 young people every year face the cruel reality that they can't go to college or join the military. Their dreams are denied, since they are punished for being brought by their parents.

65,000 is the target number of signatures for the new 2009 DREAM Act petition. Help us reach this symbolic number by submitting your electronic signature to the 2009 DREAM Act petition.

You can also join us for the national call-in campaign being organized on March 23 and 24.

Let's show our politicians the support for this legislation. Let's show those 65,000 students that will graduate in 2009, that we support them and their dreams for a better future.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Jerry Walker: Worst Person of the Week

Inspired by MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, I have decided to (try to) have a weekly post in which I shine a light on some of the main supporters of the anti-immigration movement. This weeks person?

Jerry Walker, a member of the Maricopa County Community College District's governing board.

During a a school sponsored trip to Washington D.C. Mr. Walker heckled a student while she was giving a demonstration on the DREAM Act to Rep. Trent Frank’s legislative aide (Bobby J. Cornett). The East Valley Tribune describes how the student " broke into tears after Walker, a member of the district’s governing board, incessantly ridiculed her during her attempts to lobby for federal legislation to help illegal immigrant students"

The Tribune writes how according to the students complain Walker continuously interrupted her presentation on the act. Walker allegedly interjected comments including, “you are wrong,” “that is not true,” and “I do not agree with you.” Then at the conclusion of the presentation, Walter apologized to Cornett for the student's "rude" behavior.

Mr. Cornett states "I found it, you know, kind of strange that (Walker) would apologize for something I didn’t even think happened."

At the end of this meeting the student recalls how she " began to pick up my pace in order to catch up with the group, while Mr. Walker began to verbally attack and pursue me down the hall".

The next meeting took place with Sen. Jon Kyl’s legislative aide,at the end of it another student, Christopher Esteen, says that "Walker started to accuse the female student of lying during her presentation, calling the DREAM Act 'stupid' and the student 'dumb'."

The Tribune describes:

The female student attempted to diffuse the increasingly tense situation, according to her complaint. She responded to Walker that he has a right to his opinion, but she disagrees.

Student witnesses said that response only pushed Walker to make his case more loudly.

As it continued, Walker “began to yell at me and tell me that he did (not) care how I felt about his opinion and that 65 (percent) of the citizens of Arizona agreed with him and that was all that mattered to him,” the student’s complaint said.

Walker told the Tribune that he informed the female student that 71 percent, not 65 percent, of voters approved Prop. 300.

The female student then lost her composure. She made her way to a public bathroom.

The four other Maricopa district board members have already sent an apology letter to Rep. Trent Frank’s legislative aide. However Mr. Walker is unrepentant. Instead he wants to spin this by saying that the real victims are "his political views and those of local taxpayers".

Oh best part? Walker is a Baptist minister-in-training.

Feel free to email Mr. Walker at

Article at

Connecting with People

To me one of the best things that have come out of this whole internet "involvement" with DREAM, has been the chance to connect with other fellow undocumented students, and graduates. I have found a close knit group of people from which I can find support, encouragement and relief.

Some i have even met in person, such as Geronimo and Gateway.

This past week I had the fortune of meeting two more of my fellow dreamers. MAGrad and Negrita28. To see and talk to each was a rich and rewarding experience.

Negrita28 i met this Saturday. She is one of the young ones, just a Junior in highschool. She was on a college tour provided by her highschool, and they made a stop at Santa Clara University, where my sister attends. I volunteered my sister to be a tour guide to the 50 or so students, since the University haden't provided them with one. As we walked the campus i got a chance to talk to Negrita28 about her school, plans and interests, and I was amazed at this young lady. At her young age she is commiting herself to higher education despite the barriers placed infront of her. She is clearly the future of America.

MAGrad is one of the most active supporters of the DREAM Act, and she is kinda like a beacon of light in the dark. When we met in Oakland this past Thursday, I hafta admit i was extremely nervous, see MAGrad is an extremely intelligent, articulate and active individual. The perfect representative for DREAM Act.

Our meeting was informal, with some coffee and casual discourse on politics, movies and our ways of dealing with the situation. But I also got alot more, since i could see the intricate network of dedicated students that are working to promote this bill. And although limited by my stoopid work hours, I feel a sense of resposibility towards MAGrad and the Dreamactivist group (among the many others) to do what ever i can to help ease the workload that they have. Because they're working on somthing for all of us.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Kevin Prada's letter

I found this letter on Underground Undergrads. It's a letter to President Obama, and it was read by its author at an immigration hearing held at UCLA.

To me it highlights the complexities of the immigration dilemma, as well as the problems with the current "enforcement" only approach.

Dear Mr. President Barack Obama,

Hello, my name is Kevin, a 12 year old American citizen, and I wish to express myself to you. My father, Wilber Prada, was deported on September 27, 2007. Until that date, my life was great, fun, happy, radiant with love for family. My father had crossed the border escaping the terrorist-infested Peru in the early 1990s. He came to America, pleading for the political-Asylum that America was offering for fleeing Peruvians. Unfortunately, his case was denied. He later appealed in 2000, again pleading for a citizenship for my family. By this time, he had a business in gardening, working Monday through Saturday. He was the greatest father I could ever ask for, always being there for me, and loving me so much, and teaching me my favorite sport soccer. We weren’t different from any other “American” family, and had the greatest life until he was deported.

The day he was deported was the WORST, SADDEST DAY OF MY LIFE. I couldn’t stop crying for days, just missing him even more everyday, getting worse and worse. I couldn’t go to school because I couldn’t concentrate on my work, only on my dad. My grades dropped so much, and I couldn’t tell my friends because they wouldn’t understand. I only had my mom, brother, and a great, enthusiastic teacher. My mother was also like me but worse. Even now, she still cries and still sad about what happened. Same with my brother. Luckily, time passed, and my teacher noticed. She cried and gave us love when she knew what had happened. It was a shame for the INS to take 17 years to say NO, even after my father established friendships, a business, and a home. He always paid his taxes to the IRS, and was a great man to know. When they took my dad, some said if it was so bad, why does the whole family not go to Peru with him? Well, that didn’t make sense to me, when I had also established friends, family, and school, love. It was a disgrace to hear that, when we were like any other family trying to survive in this nation.

My father was arrested like a criminal, as if he had done something like killing someone, or robbing a bank. My father has lived in the US for more than 17 years, a very long time, and after all of that, he was denied?

PLEASE, I write to you wishing for what you have promised, CHANGE. I would like to have my dad back with me, IN AMERICA. I would like for my hard-working family to have citizenship, and to be here without being scared of being caught by some sort of homeland security. My brother is an AB540 student, and studying at UCLA for 4 years. I would also like to ask you to give him and all the undocumented students citizenship, by passing the DREAM act. My mother has her own house-cleaning business she owns to feed us. I would also like her to have citizenship, when she is volunteering teaching Spanish at my school, taking me to karate everyday, and working everyday. Please, Give My Father FREEDOM. GIVE my Family FREEDOM. I WANT CHANGE NOW!

PLEASE, PLEASE, Please, reply to my letter, and remember when you were not raised with your father, just like me. You suffered a lot, and now im suffering the same. Please help me, and respond back to me.

Thank you,


Friday, March 13, 2009


here's the formula:

20/27=.747 or approximately 75%.

I've been here for 75% of my life.

Still not american enough for ya?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Let me introduce you to...

Maria, whom I first met back in the fall of 2007 when I was working at Burger King as a cashier. Maria was one of the cooks there. She was a small woman of about four feet and seven inches in height, with very indigenous features and long black hair that she wore in a ponytail. Having been in the United States for only two years (spent mostly working) she spoke only very broken English, and understood fragments of a conversation. Maria liked to joke with me and often times we would bicker playfully about the way she made Whopers or the way I sounded over the drive-through headset. I remember that her uniform pants where always a little too high, so that her white socks showed and clashed with her all black uniform. Or the time when, at the Christmas party, she came dressed up and everyone gave such her a hard time so that she cried. As I tried to comfort her she called me "Grabiel" like she always did.

Originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, Maria had come to the U.S. with her husband in the year 2005. They had left three kids behind with her mother. One night as we were both closing the store down, she told me of how she had actually crossed through the desert, walking for three nights (resting during the day to avoid the heat). In my mind I tried to picture this small woman, walking with a bag in the pitch black of the desert night and trying not to lose her husband.

Most of our conversations revolved around humor and burger king "politics", like which manager was being stingy with hours or who was really bad at taking orders. But once in a while we would have more serous talks, such as her reason for coming to work here. Maria had come to save some money, like many of the undocumented do, so that she and her husband could start her own business. I listened as she explained her plans of saving enough so that she could buy materials to have a small "snack" shop, from which she could sell fruit cocktails, corn on the cob with chile and raspados. "Si voy a una Quince, va a ver mucho negocio ahi" she told me. I saw such earnest hope in her eyes.

When I told Maria that I was undocumented too she didn't seemed surprised. She did ask me in a very natural manner, why I was still here. I never did answer her very well. I told her that regardless of what happened I would one day visit her in Oaxaca, and asked for the name of her home town. She wrote it on the back of a receipt and I keep it in my journal, for future reference. She laughed when I told her I would show up when she least expected it and would be bothering her to make me some tamales Oaxaqueños.

When I asked her if there would be a hotel nearby this was her answer, "Grabiel",she said, "my house is very big. You can stay on the floor of my kitchen, but you'll have to get used to the bathroom being outside of the house".

Maria went back to Oaxaca on December 23 2007.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Plan B?

These past few weeks I've been ambushed with some heavy thoughts, mostly about the future and the choices that will need to be made. There is one thought that had been incessantly hounding me no matter what I do.

If the Dream Act Fails, if there is no Immigration Reform, if things don't change. Then what?

In the past I've toyed with the idea of leaving, but it always was just an intangible idea that I managed to push back. I always come back to the same place; what about my family? That question stops me in my tracks, and keeps me moving past the uncertainty of this life.

Now, as the days progress, my hopes cling to the passage of DREAM. I send emails to congress people, scour the news, support whom I can when I can, and generally try to keep a positive view. However the thought lingers, "then what?", and when it comes up, my mind gets going.

The responsibility I have in my family weighs heavy on me. The impotence of this situation weighs even heavier.

I know that I cant postpone my life much longer if all were to remain unchanged, yet I also feel that if I were to leave, I would be abandoning my loved ones at a time of great need.

But how long can I keep my head down as I trudge through this storm?