Sunday, April 26, 2009

San Jose City College

This past Thursday I participated in the REELWORK May Day Labor Film showcase at San Jose City College. I was invited to attend by Prerna (over at, who attends many similar workshops all over the country.

She informed me that I would be speaking to the attendees.
Speaking? about what? I asked naively.
Your status.

This even was the biggest crowd I have come out in, aside from doing one on one revelations of my status to people I know and trust, I mostly keep it a secret.

The day of the event I went to pick up Lu (from alittlepieceofpaper) who came out to show her support and "be a DREAM groupie" as she put it. And then headed to Fremont to pick up Prerna. In the midst of all this driving, we stopped for some grub and this resulted in our running late (the event started at 6:30).

Fighting through traffic, we managed to get there barely on time, but had no time to rehearse or plan out our presentation. Prerna spoke first, introducing herself, and eloquently describing the nation wide student effort to promote the DREAM Act.

I spoke next. I don't remember what I said because of the nerves. I know I said something like "My name is Gabriel and I am an Undocumented Student". Other than that the rest of the event flew by with a blur.

At the end, there were some other students and group representatives that approached us to talk and plan out further events. I think we got invited to Evergreen Valley college, and Stanford.

After it was all over, and I could reflect on the day, I realized what a huge weight had been lifted. Although it was a small workshop, to me it was a cathartic experience to go out and get an opportunity to show the undocumented student's side of the story. I am grateful to Prerna for giving me the opportunity to participate, and to Lu for coming out from such a distance to offer support.

I look forward to doing this again soon.


The first thing I remember about my arrival to the US is the 1980's Nintendo video game Duckhunt.

We had just crossed the line a few hours earlier, and my Aunt drove us to her friend's home in Los Angeles. I fell asleep on the ride there. I was carried in to the house, and laid down on the sofa.

What awoke me from my sleep was the sounds of a television combined with children laughing. I groggily looked up to see what all the fuss was about, and then I saw something that confused me. There in the living room was a small boy, about my age, playing with a toy guy; but he had tied it to the TV and was pointing it at the screen.

I silently watched, my eyes not yet fully opened. After sometime the small boy looked over. Quieres jugar? I cautiously took the gun as the boy explained to me how the game was played, you shoot at the tv screen and try to kill the cartoon ducks.

It was amazing.

In Mexico we lived in a some what small suburban town called Queretaro. I hung out with the neighborhood kids and played with our toboganes or tied beetles to strings and watched them fly in circles. We had American toys as well, but our interests laid in the outdoors, with the typical pistolero games and playing hide and seek.

I watched cartoons, and went to the arcade with my cousins to play Pac-man. But Duckhunt was different. It was inside.

After that night we left L.A. but that first encounter with the United States and its culture always stayed with me.

I love Steven Colbert

He is by far one of the best reporters out there right now haha.

"I say we make the wall out of Jails"-Colbert

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Joe Arpaio
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorGay Marriage Commercial

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My face is melting...

Its so hot tonite! and Im still up!! and I hafta work tomorrow!

If I were an engineer, this would be one of those times were I would work from home for the rest of the week.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I want you

The issue of progressives against DREAM Act's military provision has by now been beaten to death, and has been discussed much more eloquently by other bloggers, such as Prerna, over at the Citizen Orange comments section:

"We already have to battle it out with nativists and with our life circumstances. We do not want to be fighting with our friends and allies too. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem."
Dream Activist (28 March 2009)

Still, one particular comment, from Erendira Guerra, really gets me going:
The Dream Act is sadly a military bill with a cover of education. And it is anti-Mexican.
It is anti-Mexican because the overwhelming majority of undocumented youth who graduate from high school in the US are Mexican. And the majority of our Mexican documented youth dont go to college even when they have papers.
this is a class question. Mexicanos in the main are from working class background. When families come from across the sea, they are in the main, the lower middle classes who go to college anyways.
So, the Dream Act will benefit certain sectors of the undocumented youth. But, the majority who are Mexican will be the ones to go to war.
Right now it is not legal for the military to recruit undocumented youth. They do it, yes, but they hide it, they cheat, and nonetheless it is against the law. The Dream Act will make it legal to recruit the undocumented youth and it will open the flood gates for the undocumented Mexican youth to go and kill and die overseas.
We as a people, in a movement, cannot support this! We cannot support bringing our young people to slaughter. Those of you who support the Dream Act, especially you undocumented youth who want to go to college, your desire is just, you deserve the right to go to college. But not with a cost of sending our other sisters and brothers to war!
Forget this ME FIRST mentality that the US society promotes. We must think of each other.
Sending the majority off to war so that you can go to college is wrong.
Yes, fight for the Dream Act, but ONLY without the military provisions. Un danyo contra uno es un danyo contra todos!

I take offense to Erendira's comment, for various reasons.

The first is her labeling of the DREAM as "anti-mexican". As a "illegal" Mexican Immigrant I do not agree. How can legislation that will give me the option of finally changing my status, whether through military service or a college education be anti-Mexican? To me this is just self rightious speak coming from a U.S. Citizen that has a degree in latin american studies and joined MECHA while in college. It is more anti-Mexican to let me continue to work at McDonalds than to become an Army ranger (like my friend Ulysses- also Mexican) or and Industrial Engineer (see Me).

Secondly, she states how the "Majority of our Mexican documented youth don't go to college even when they have papers". This is not a DREAM Act issue, it's a parenting issue. I see it first hand, when Mexican parents rather watch their novelas, and drink their coronas instead of reading with their kids or meeting with their children's teachers. And please don't give me the bullshit of the parents being too busy working, because my parents were busy as well, but they managed to get three Mexican kids into college.

And last, Erendira has the audacity to tell undocumented youth to "Forget this ME FIRST mentality that the US society promotes. We must think of each other.Sending the majority off to war so that you can go to college is wrong."

This insults me in the worst way possible. How dare you imply that I'm selfish for wanting an education. How dare you imply that I think my education is worth the life of others, and that I'd sacrifice them for the right to use my diploma. How dare you sit from the comfort of your citizenship and tell me to make sacrifices.

I ask you Erindira, to walk a year in an undocumented student's shoes before you make your insulting and ignorant statements.

If you really care about us Mexicanos, then fight the crumbling school systems, the parental indifference, the gangs, the drugs. Don't bring your fight to a piece of legislation that would offer some relief from the daily strain that we americanized mojados have to deal with every day.

William Gheen: Worst Person of the Week

(Sorry, scratch that. Gheen is the worst person of the month)

~A little bit of background story:

Recently former Congressman Tom Tancredo was invited to speak at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. His topic of discussion? The evil DREAM Act.

While he was getting ready to speak a group of people gathered outside to protest Mr. Tancredo's presence on campus. Apparently Mr. Tancredo's speech was disrupted as soon as he took to the mike; he was greeted by chants of "No dialogue with hate!"

Security escorted the protesters out, and soon, according to reports, "more protesters walked to the front of the room and put a sign in front of him, leading to pandemonium and a glass window being broken."

Mr. Tancredo did not finish his speech.

This weeks beef is not with Mr. Tancredo, (although I could dedicate 10 gigs of writing for his "worst person"), rather it's with the infamous William Gheen, who is president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC.

See, it turns out that Gheen was conveniently videotaping everything that occurred. And immediately uploaded it to the web, screaming bloody murder, and pointing out that "Illegal" Immigrants tend to be violent, even the educated ones.

Gheen also released the following statement:

"The hatred, intolerance, and animosity that was behind the shattered glass in that room was the same human emotion that sends bricks through the store fronts of Jewish business owners"

Now, clearly he is implicitly blaming this havoc on Dreamers, trying to make us look like an angry mob. However, if one takes a second to ponder about the potential repercussions of the protester's violent actions, such as jail time, then one thing becomes apparent.

Undocumented student's would not risk being deported for such inefficient means of expressing one's self.

This thought then leads me into a conspiracy theory that begins by asking:
"who would have the most to gain from Mr. Tancredo being harassed off stage?"
Clearly not my peers and I. Personally I do not condone violence, and I'm sure this sentiment is shared by many undocumented students who have been shouted at, harassed and Capslocked by the neighborhood Gheene fan.

Yet, the opposition relishes in its aggressive (and often times violent) efforts at making undocumented immigrants be pervasive law breakers.

So, when faced with intelligent English speaking, college educated, logic following undocumented immigrants, Gheene and his crew got desperate and formulated this disruption.

or maybe, Mr. Tancredo forgot to write his speech and this was his back up plan?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Illegal Poverty

Illegal migrants raise children in poverty: U.S. study

Sometimes, I'm amazed at what obvious things these studies discover. I mean, seriously, just take a second to think of the micro- economics of "Illegal" life:

[Minimum wage jobs (or less) ] divided by [rent, food,gas/bus fare, occasional gift for kids, cost of medicine w/o insurance, money sent back "home", emergencies] = POVERTY

The next "find" from the study is equally illuminating:

It found that a third of the children of unauthorized immigrants and a fifth of adult unauthorized immigrants live in poverty -- nearly double the poverty rate for children of U.S.-born parents.


I can just hear the new anti-immigration talking point:

"these 'Illegals' are forcing our citizens to live in poverty! just look at their kids!"

Here's the article:

Illegal migrants raise children in poverty: U.S. study

Monday, April 13, 2009

Life's Little Ironies

Today I repaired a Border Patrol Agent's Laptop.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Media Coverage

Since DREAM Act got introduced on March 26th, there has been a growing stream of media coverage for it. The latest was this report from Good Morning America (ABC news).

Positive media attention is a key component to the goal of passing DREAM. The more people learn about the legislation and separate the myths from the truth, then the better our chances will be.

All though coverage of the actual bill was scarce in GMA's report, it did help put a human face on the issue.

My thanks goes out to those brave students who presented themselves in the spotlight of national media.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sin Nombre

Last night I was treated by some friends to a wonderful film called "Sin Nombre". The film, by new comer Cary Joji Funukana, follows the parallel journeys of a young girl trying to immigrate to the United States, and a young gang member trying to run from his past. In my opinion the film does an exceptional job in remaining focused on the rawness of the Central American immigration experience, and it also lets the viewer take a step into the violent and hidden world of the Mara Salvatrucha gang. The Director, Mr. Fukunaka, actually rode the trains in Chiapas in order to experience the reality of what he was going to film. You can see this in the authenticity of the narrative.

I would be lying if I said that I wasn't biased toward films that try to portray the immigrant experience. I loved Babel, Under the Same moon, The Visitor and Al Otro Lado. But this film was something else for me. It was an experience.

In another life, I think I would have been a film maker, since I love telling stories, and watching films. To me films are a way to be transported, to inhabit another reality, if only for a while. For the duration of the film I was in a trance like state, engulfed in the intricacies of its story, the beauty of its cinematography and the honesty.

I highly recommend it.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Unlicensed Driving

I have been driving since I was 17. It is risky to do so since I obviously don't have a license. Yet I started to drive out of necessity, because most of the jobs I've held aren't close to where I live. That and the fact that I work in a city that's located one and a half hours way from where my parent's home is (no train to it, only ICE infested Greyhound).

I don't take this small pleasure for granted, as I know of many DREAMers who don't drive because of the risk involved. I respect their choice, because I understand that we're not all one homogeneous clump and are all entitled to our own discretion.

Through out my 10 or so years of driving I have been blessed by some force (call it what you may), and have not been involved in any accidents. I was however, pulled over by a police officer about a year ago ( i'll go into that more another time), but things could have been a lot worse I suppose.

I've noticed recently that what started out as a need, is now becoming something else.

Driving to me has started to become a way to kind of let go of my "undocumented-ness" . I tend to forget that I don't have papers while I'm driving. Yea, in a lame way, it makes me feel "normal". I guess about as normal as I can feel.

Since I've been on my own, crashing relatives and friends' houses for some time now, my car has become my "home". When I feel out of place at my aunt's, or i just cant deal with the stress of whatever is happening, I go for a drive because I get comforted just by driving aimlessly through the city night.

It's a weird dilemma. I feel comfort but at the same time I'm subconsciously aware of the danger. Checking mirrors, controlling my speed, maintaining safe distances.

I think that once I take that (dreaded by some, anticipated by me) DMV driving test, I'll pass with flying colors, and then go for a drive.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

CNN: Worst Person of the Week

This Time it's CNN, which decided to run a segment on the DREAM Act.

This might have been a great opportunity to actually cover the DREAM Act in a non-biased and completely objective way, but instead it was handed over to none other than Bilbo Dobbins (aka Mr. Lou Dobbs).

I actually sat through part of his show in order to catch the segment. Having me do that in of itself should be reason enough to have CNN nominated as WPotW.

When the segment about DREAM was finally on, I got exactly what I was expecting. A narrow minded, xenophobic distortion of what DREAM is all about. Here's some of the "highlights":

  • Amnesty!
  • In-state tuition!
  • A background on Mexican people actually crossing the border! GASP!
  • Mass Family petitions, done and approved in an Instant!
  • and of course AMNESTY! ( I love capslock)
The people that read this blog already know most of the counter arguments to these illogical points, so we wont delve in to them much. I'll just do highlights on that too:
  • Not amnesty! (I, along with my many peers have paid our dues thank you)
  • No instate tuition to every state, it will allow you to become a resident, thus qualifying for the tuition fees of the state you already resided in.
  • A lot of DREAMers aren't Mexican, DREAMers didn't swim across the Rio Grande for instate tuition.
  • The legislation clearly states only USC can petition family ( with DREAM it would be about 6+ years to attain citizenship...not so instant)
  • Finally, Not Amnesty!
OH! also Mr. Dobbs, finished his segment with something like "instate tuition for illegals? When no state provides instate tuition for American Citizens from other states!". Ok one, read above. But secondly, the majority of AB540 beneficiaries are...ready Dobbs?..... U.S. citizens that had moved out of California. Love that Dobbins.

The funny thing is that CNN has a new TV spot, which includes Mr. Anderson Cooper highlighting CNN's efforts at unbiased reporting by "keeping them honest".

Yes, that's all very well, but I ask, who is keeping your employer honest Mr. Cooper?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Yesterday passes me by with out a second thought
i feel it slipping through my veins
in every moment.
Please just hold my hand and don't let me go.
Another year is leaving me tonight.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

One word.

You made the decision.
You ran away from the problems.
You brought me with you.
You say I'm a coward.


Saturday, April 4, 2009


This article from NPR just came to my attention:

It deals with the first immigration raid that has occurred under Obama's Presidency.

On Feb. 24, when armed immigration agents raided Yamato Engine Specialists, a small company that rebuilds car engines in Bellingham, Wash., 28 workers were led away in handcuffs. They were illegal immigrants, most of them from Mexico, and they faced quick deportation. It was the first big immigration raid under President Obama, and it came as a shock to many in the Hispanic community.
Many Latinos and immigrant rights advocates hoped that the new President would place an immediate moratorium on these work place raids (I admit that politically this is near impossible, because of the complexity of the immigration issue). So when this raid occurred, signs of disappointment and anger were apparent in the immigrant community.

The new Secretary of the Department of Homeland "Security", Janet Napolitano, almost immediately had a response to the raid, stating that she did not know of the raid ahead of time and that it would be under review.

And that could have been the end of that.

However, as the NPR article informs, there has been a somewhat interesting development in the month since the raid occurred.
Now, one month later, 27 of the 28 workers have been released. One of them — Luis Ramos — says he can't get over how nice the immigration agents have become.

"They treat us wonderfully," Ramos says. "They even say, 'do you want a soda from the machine?'"

The government is offering them temporary work permits, and immigration agents are even giving the Mexicans free rides to Seattle to file the paperwork

"Nice" immigration agents? this is quite a change from the past few years, where ICE agents raid unsuspecting homes, harass immigrants and even drug them in order to streamline their deportation (Careless Detention- Washington Post).

Still this has only been one case. One instance where the undocumented is not harassed and the employer slapped on the wrist. Nevertheless it could signal a change in the way enforcement is handled in the future. A more pragmatic look at the demand and supply dynamic behind illegal immigration perhaps?

Maybe even a shift (albeit a small one) on the immigration paradigm?

Nice Day Out

On the post DREAM passage play list

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Life in a Tilde

I've had the idea of getting a tattoo for the past 5 1/2 years. I knew what I wanted it to be, but I also know that a tattoo is not to be taken lightly and done on whim.

So I've been wearing a hair band on my wrist for the past 5 1/2 years, to see if I can last with an "accessory" on me. So far I've lasted.

Sometimes I use a pen and "draw" the tattoo on me for reasons relating aesthetics (and vanity?).

Here's the future Tat:

It obviously represents the years I've lived here. As for the 2009, well it is the twenty year anniversary, and also the year in which some sort of resolution to this dilemma will come. I either stay or I leave.

But as I looked at my wrist today all I could think about is the notion of how much life is represented by that tilde.