Friday, June 11, 2010

Feinsteins Mock Grad Fotos

We held a Mock Graduation/Deportation in front of Feinstein's office this past thursday. felt a good flow of energy from participants. here are some pics





Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Action Tomorrow

Worked with some other students on a rally in front of Feinsteins office tomorrow. Feel excited, kinda last minute but it still feels electric. fotos posted tomorrow.


On a side note
water and cell phones dont mix ;)

Monday, May 24, 2010

My Fathers Journey - Part 2

The sound of the speeding cars no longer startled him; he’d been walking along the side of the highway most of the night, with out any idea of what time it was, or how many hours had passed since he had crawled out of the pipe. His feet ached. His back ached. Exhaustion gripped him by the bones. Stomach churning, he suddenly became aware of the tremendous hunger that resided in him. It’d been at least 48 hrs since his last meal. The nerves hadn’t let him eat.


He thought of his family, and wondered where they were. He figured that by this time they should be in San Jose, and would be expecting a call from him soon. The realization that no one knew where he was suddenly hit him, and it settled like a heavy rock on his chest. A rush of panic hit him and he attempted to run and was merely being able to trot and stumble. He stopped.


Cars rushed by him. Moving lights in an endless darkness; disappearing almost instantly as they moved closer to their destinations. What next. How long until the highway hits a town. Thinking of how to inform them of his location. He kept moving down the road. He walked so much he had lost track of the distance that he had traveled; no idea of where he was or where this highway was leading.


Walking aimlessly made his mind wander, and a flurry of thoughts began to crowd his head. He remembered the small market stand he had in Queretaro, how it had been enough to provide a comfortable living. He thought about all the problems that haunted his family. Of his older brother yelling profanities at him, while he watched from inside his house. Thoughts of the night when he made the decision to bring his family to this place. Thoughts of his family. How they had dressed up and gotten up early one day so they could go to Mexico City and get their passport. He thought about how it was only he who had not been given a visa.


His train of thought was broken the flash of some slowing lights. He watched them slow until they came to a stop a few yards ahead of him. Maintaining his pace he walked up to the lights, which had now materialized into a moving truck. Inside the driver said something in English, which he understood as an invitation to get in. No second thoughts, no doubts, no fear. He climbed in.


“Where ya headed?”


San Jose – he said


“ I’m going to Nevada but I can give you a ride up north for a bit”


Ok.


The next few minutes were awkward. Silence crowded the cabin of the small truck. The man driving was a light skinned blond, he didn’t seem dangerous, still it was best to stay awake. The blonde man looked over at him, “you look exhausted.” In broken English he explained what had happened, and how he had walked for so long. “don’t worry, the migra usually doesn’t patrol this far in.” The blonde man took out some pills and handed them to him, “here, they will help you rest.” With out knowing why, he took them.


It was the voice of the Driver that woke him.


“Hey, I didn’t want to wake you, but we are a few miles from Nevada”


He didn’t realize he had fallen asleep. Nadamas cerre los ojos poquito, he though. His body had just given in to temptation.


Nevada? Mierda…y ahora que.


Now what.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Tragic Loss


When I first started doing research for the DREAM Act, i ran into the Congressional testimony of Tam Tram. I was in awe. This young woman, young undocumented student was speaking out. it was a jolt of inspiration. When we started to communicate via FB i was giddy, and i told her so. She is a hero of mine.

A few months back i had a friend request from Cinthya Felix, a UCLA grad who was an aspiring Physician. We had conversations on G-chat and FB and were looking forward to meeting each other as we had heard much about one another.

Yesterday I learned that both had passed away in a terrible car accident.

I never had the privilege of meeting them in person, but my heart sinks as I think of the terrible loss, the pain their families are feeling.

Both these young women were an inspiration, they represented everything that the DREAM Act stands for. Both these young women were American to the core. They will be dearly missed

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My Fathers Journey - Part 1

He lay motionless, barely breathing, feeling the coolness of the mud penetrating the front of his shirt. He lay like that for hours, trying to control his heart pace, slow rhythmic breathing. He thought about how he had been hiding by the legs of the front side passenger, and how the driver, upon reaching the check point, had panicked and said “vale madre, ya sabenay que correr”. He remembered how with in seconds the car was emptied, bodies running away from the check point, the yells of the now surprised patrol officers.


He had stayed behind, hidden, the glove compartment pressing against his head; when the officers passed by he got out and ran in the opposite direction. He ran with out looking back, with out knowing where he was running to, he ran as if his life depended on it.


It did.


He went into the bush, struggled with low hanging branches and rocks, almost tripping over his own feet, over his fear. Heart pounding, his heart condition suddenly not an issue. As he ran he had noticed a small break in the tree line; something told him “there” and he lunged towards it, his body flew downwards as the ground gave out into a muddy rain aqueduct. His muscles gave out and he covered himself with branches, leaves what ever he could find.


Now he was stoic; trying to immerse him-self with the brush and mud. He could hear the officers looking for him. Yelling “we are going to find you.” Mixed Spanish “vas a ver cabron” and other insults. Fear was gripping him slowly, entering his body much like the mud which now soaked his clothes. He wondered what had happened to the others that had run. What had happened to the two young guys in the trunk of the car.


His mind was racing, thoughts of his family; the last time he had seen them, the car they were in drove off. The pain he had felt in his heart as his son looked out the back window and waved. Now the sun began to slowly set, the sounds of the officers began to grow fainter. They had gone.


In an imitation of military fashion, he began to drag his body along the aqueduct, slowly, stopping when ever he heard noise, pressing his body to the ground and holding every breath. Minutes or hours later, he was not sure; he came across a highway blocking his path, the only way to cross it was either go above and take a chance with the speeding cars or to go through a pipe that went underneath the highway. Exhausted he closed his eyes and slept.


When he awoke it was dark, the sounds of the speeding cars surrounded him, as did the faint lights of their head lights racing past. He crawled close to the pipe opening, no way to tell how far down it goes -he thought. Paying no mind to the terrible claustrophobia that had always haunted him; he braced himself and crawled into the pipe. Inside the putrid smell of garbage, mold and rat shit invaded his nostrils. It was dark and he could not see the end.


His body barely fitting, he was glad for his small 5’4” frame as he dragged his way across. Insects ran down his body, the smell impregnated his clothes and the pipe seemed to go on forever. Pain no longer harbored his body, he was too tired to feel anything; it was as if he was only moving out of sheer inertia, just motions with out thoughts. He was too tired. As he came out of the pipe he let his body drop; he saw only the dark wilderness ahead of him. Me voy a perder. Not sure where he was or where to go he decided the best option would be to stay close to the highway. It had to hit a town eventually.


He willed his exhausted body up and began to walk.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Coming Out to Mahal

Mahal is my coworker. We have worked together for about five months now and we get along great, she is a sweet young lady with a solid head on her shoulders and a great sense of humor. we are both foodies and she has been feeding me with some awesome Filipino cuisine and other snacks. We laugh at our dumb customers and have some awesome therapy sessions.

And she also has a sixth sense.

I've been having one of those rough patches where i tend to just drift off in to my thoughts at work, and Mahal has been keenly aware of it.
-Hey dood, are you ok over there gabe?
Yes (smile)
Hey Mahal...whats our patient/doctor confidentiality level?
-Gabe. you know you can tell me anything. whats on your mind.
well i need to figure out how to phrase it but.
-its ok take your time
Thanks.
- are you Illegal.
erm. yes. well. im undocumented.

That's how the conversation Started.

I could feel my heart racing faster let her know my situation, although due to the nervousness i edited my story a bit. She told me that she was not to informed on the issue but that she would hear me out, and as i spoke i could see genuine concern and worry on her face. I explained that my only options where marriage or bust.

Mahal said that she kinda suspected it. I asked why. She told me "well you're really smart, have a college degree and are hard working, so i wonder why youve been working here so long." I guess there are signs.

She joked "if i were single id marry you gabe"
You're not my type Mahal- i joked back

I told her how now i could break my rule of not adding coworkers on Facebook and she smiled.

As i left for home i asked her if this changed anything or made things weird (there was some akwardness in the air, naturally). Mahal smiled and said no

see you tomorrow Gabe

The Week That SB 1070 Brought

A quick "off the top of my head" summary

Friday April 23rd 2010 Governor of Arizona Jan Brewer signed into law the horrendous SB 1070 Bill, which make Arizona a total police state, and allows for legalized racial profiling.

The following week resulted in a flurry of events, some encouraging, some discouraging and some just plain confusing.

The passage of SB 1070 mobilized the somewhat demoralized Pro-Immigration groups and the Latino community. It was apparent immediately on facebook. Some people posted "she signed the bill..." and "legalize Arizona". With in hours vigils were organized nation wide and official responses condemning the bill were formulated. We held a vigil Saturday night in San Francisco.

Harry Reid, Luis Gutierrez et al proceeded to condemn the legislation, while most republicans praised it. Two significant things of note: Tom Tancredo (aka papa racist) said that Arizona was going too far (YIKES you know its bad if HE said this), and Lindsey Graham (the leading Republican Senator on Immigration issues), also condemned it.

The silence from the Obama Administration was deafening. But some time later at a Naturalization Ceremony Obama finally spoke out about the law, saying that comprehensive immigration reform was needed.

Cue the sudden Schizophrenia from the Democrats. Reid followed Obama's cue by saying CIR was next in the agenda, Graham threw a fit, the Democrats back off, Obama said CIR would have to wait, the Democrats introduced a "republican free" version of CIR...and the circus continues...

Republican Pat Bertroche, an Urbandale physician and one of seven Republicans running in the 3rd District Congressional primary, said Monday

“I actually support microchipping them. I can microchip my dog so I can find it. Why can’t I microchip an illegal?" - Iowaindependent.com
Yes, you read that correctly...Dogs and "an illegal". Osea the humanity of the "illegal" is completely stripped out.

Tim James,a candidate in the Alabama governor's race, came out with a very articulate and direct "English Only" ad, check it out: Tim James (Is afraid to learn Espanish)

The insanity doesn't stop, because Arizona also deemed it necessary to BAN teachers with FOREING accents. haha wow. check it here

Love them republicans huh?

Saturday was May Day or Workers Day, which in this movement has become the day to go out and march, as a symbolic gesture of frustration. Demonstrations were held in Los Angeles, San Jose, Dallas, Austin,Houston, Chicago, New York, DC and more. Los Angeles alone had 200,000 people fill the streets.



Representative Gutierrez along with about 40 others demonstrated an act of civil disobedience in front of the white house and got arrested. A signal that the heat is turning up in this debate and new actions are being looked at.

As i write this, on Monday morning, no concrete commitment has been made on reforming the ridiculously broken immigration system.

Still, I am anxious to see what other humorous antics show up this week, if only to take my mind off the immigration debate...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Excerpt of President Obama's Speech

"Government has a responsibility to enforce the law and secure our borders and set clear rules and priorities for future immigration. And under Secretary Napolitano’s leadership at the Department of Homeland Security, that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’ve strengthened security at our borders, ports and airports and we will continue to do so, because America’s borders must be secure. That’s part of what these young people here today stand for.

Businesses have a responsibility to obey the law and not undermine American workers, especially when so many Americans are out of work. Many businesses work to comply with the law every day. But for those that don’t -- those that ignore the law and exploit and abuse vulnerable workers and try to gain an unfair advantage over all the businesses that do follow the law -- we will hold them accountable.

And people who are in America illegally have a responsibility -- to pay their back taxes and admit responsibility for breaking the law, pay a penalty, learn English, pass criminal background checks, and get right with the law -- or face removal -- before they can get in line and eventually earn their citizenship.

So responsibility. Accountability. Common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform. I thank Secretary Napolitano for helping to lead our efforts, both on and off Capitol Hill. And I thank Senators Schumer and Graham for working with us to forge a bipartisan consensus on a framework for moving forward, and I welcome the commitment of House and Senate Democratic leaders to take action.

I’ll continue to consult with Democrats and Republicans in Congress, and I would note that 11 current Republican Senators voted to pass immigration reform four years ago. I’m hopeful that they will join with Democrats in doing so again so we can make the progress the American people deserve.

Indeed, our failure to act responsibly at the federal level will only open the door to irresponsibility by others. And that includes, for example, the recent efforts in Arizona, which threatened to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe."


whole speech here

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Arizona


I almost moved to Arizona a few weeks ago. A job offer had been made and it involved relocation to Phoenix. I was given one month to make my decision. Talked to a lot of people, did research and thought about consequences. It was a good opportunity, "how many times do you get offered an engineering job" said my friend Beleza.

good point.

Yet, this is the heart of Arpaio Territory we're talking about, and it's seething with anti immigrant sentiment.

With a heavy heart i turned the offer down.

Flash forward to now, the anti-immigrant bill, known as SB 1070, has cleared legislative hurdles and is on its was to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's desk.

SB 1070 makes it a misdemeanor to lack proper immigration paperwork in Arizona. It also requires police officers, if they form a "reasonable suspicion" that someone is an illegal immigrant, to determine the person's immigration status.

The bill essentially makes Arizona an apartheid state, where it will be ok for police to ask a brown "illegal" looking man or woman for their papers. I won't even delve into how a person goes about looking "illegal" (although target seemed to have their own opinion on the matter), but SB 1070 opens the gateway to legalized racial profiling.

As Alessandra Soler Meetze, president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona put it:
"A lot of U.S. citizens are going to be swept up in the application of this law for something as simple as having an accent and leaving their wallet at home."
Religious Groups are coming out against the legislation, the Associated Press reports that:
The head of the nation's largest Roman Catholic archdiocese has condemned a proposed Arizona crackdown on illegal immigrants, saying it encourages people to turn on each other in Nazi- and Soviet-style repression.
We've already seen U.S. Citizens being detained and even deported in the continuing ICE raids that keep separating families. Yet in Arizona this is on the verge of becoming common practice, and where is the Obama administration on this? quietly looking the other way. Once again, change you can believe in.

Prerna, Co founder of Dreamactivist.org and a blogger at Change.org, suggests that the passing of SB 1070 might not be such a bad thing after all. She argues that such an insane law would (and is) energize the pro immigrant movement much in the way prop 8 energized the LGBT community.

If history is any lesson, we can look at the huge latino backlash in California when Prop 187 was passed by then Republican Governor Pete Wilson. The law was declared unconstitutional and shot down, but the damage had been done, and the Immigrant community effectively managed to turn California into a blue state.

The Unites States cannot have 50 different immigration laws, the San Francisco Chronicle puts it best:
If there was any doubt about the need for comprehensive federal immigration reform, Arizona's politicians are putting it to rest.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The (mini) Hangover

***DISCLAIMER: The following events describe an unlikely week in which i re-lived my 21st year of life, the events are not representative of my everyday life...read with caution***

I turned 28 this past week.

Past birthdays I tend to stay home, relax and reflect on what the passing year has brought. Ever since 25 it seems that each new year reminds me of how time is passing me by.

Friday night as i lay in bed reading, and being annoyed at my younger sister for flaking on me, i decided that this year would be different. After all it was a First Fridays night, where all the downtown Art galleries open up and have shows and music and booze. And so the adventure began.

I got up, took off the PJs and walked out to my favorite Gallery Anno Domini, there i met up with my friend Monica, her boyfriend (Rene) and her friend Stephani. Also ran into my friends Dara and Jenna. Inside the gallery i flashed my passport and grabbed an IPA which i slowly drank while watching the art on display.

I must now disclose a somewhat shameful fact...I am a lightweight. After finishing this IPA i must say I was a bit buzzed. Needless to say that memory starts to fade a bit after this point.

Reconstructed from scrambled flash backs are the events of the night. Cinnabar, Scotch on the rocks, PBR beers, some dood hitting on Stephani and her telling him i was her BF so he would leave her alone, said dood dogging me and then drunkenly hugging me saying "its ok man its ok". Waking up on the couch in my living room with everyone else passed out on the floor.

Saturday, was recovery day. But it was Rene's Birthday celebration that night, so I once again braced myself. Dinner was at a Bar and Grill called Brittania Arms. I recall this place because not so long ago the bouncer did not accept my passport and told me i could not get in.

But we found a loop hole...go in at 6pm while it is a restaurant, and stay until 10 then get your hand stamped...and so it was...i beat the system!

This bar was bumping, but i had decided not to drink that night as i had an interview with a reporter in the morning. Unfortunately Rene and Co. didn't get the memo (insert alcoholic induced haze here).

Sunday I woke, did the interview and got some rest. 10 pm bed time.

Finally on Tuesday (Birthday day eve), a few of my friends took me out for food and drinks. A fatal combination of PBR, Patron, Whiskey and Blue moon. It is weird going out to drink at a dive bar in the middle of the week. Aside from no one, we were the only ones there.

The actual birthday was much more laid back. i got the day off from work. Got a some good birthday wishes, and a nice phone call. I had lunch with my father, hung out with my buddy Tony, had dinner with my sisters and then had a date that night.

I never partied/drank/ect much when i was younger, and most certainly not for consecutive days. The resulting hangover and exhaustion from these events are a testament to how I am most definitely not made for a rockstar (or even rockstar groupie) life style.

Nevertheless it was nice to let go and have some fun for a bit.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

28

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.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Employment Visa

Three weeks ago i was offered a job. It was a junior test engineer position. The owner of the company was willing to sponsor me for a visa. He told me to do the research on the necessary steps. Thanks to some good people i was referred to an immigration attorney that specializes in employment visas.

I went to her SF offices, and braced myself. I don't like getting my hopes up. Have done that too much in the past.

As i sat in her office waiting room i let myself daydream, of how maybe, just maybe this surreal life would soon be over. I thought of how it would be to not have it nagging in the back of my mind, that thought " no tienes papeles". Of how it seems so impossible, still after 21 years, to fully wrap my mind around the idea of how i don't "belong" or exist in my own home.

Then the day dream really took off, with thoughts of finally helping my aging parents pay off their debts, of getting a drivers license, of traveling, of being able to live with out fear, of the feeling of normality.

The appointment lasted 30 minutes. Essentially this it what it came down to: The company can submit an application to sponsor me, but the wait is 8 years, during which time i would remain undocumented. The cost is in the tens of thousands. So, if i wanted to do this i would be 36 by the time that i would be able to work for the employer that sponsored me.

I've always had this naive idea that a company could sponsor you for a visa. I remember i spent the entire summer of 2008 applying to every single company in the silicon valley, thinking that maybe one company would sponsor me. Now i had the company willing to sponsor me and the system failed me.

The attorney told me that this sponsorship process was actually not designed to provide legalization to out of status immigrants, but rather those with student or H1B visas. I thanked her, and told her i appreciated her time. She did not charge me for the visit.

As i was walking out of her office she said "Gabriel, how old are you?"

28, I replied.

"have you thought about getting married?"

Memories

My aunt slapped my hand as i reached for a slice of the Hawaiian pizza on the coffee table in the living room. Es para tu papa, she said. I sat there, holding my hand, anxious and eying the slice, not really thinking where exactly my father had been for the past 3 days.

We had just arrived from Mexico, my mother, sister and I, brought through the border with a tourist visa and by car through San Diego, and a brief stop in LA. Now we were sleeping on the floor of my Aunt's two bedroom San Jose apartment which she shared with four other people.

My father had stayed behind.

A few hours after the hand incident, pizza now cold, there was a knock on the door and my uncle showed up with my father. Torn pants, muddied shoes, unshaven and exhausted my father walked over and hugged us. I'll always remember the excitement, relief, the joy that filled the small apartment that night.

It would not be until years later that i would learn what he had been through in those three days.

My father and I have always shared a strong bond, one of trust and companionship. He's always been a good father, attentive to his family, always putting us before anything. Although he is older than me by 35 years ( he is 63) he has maintained a youthful spirit, joking and being there when I've needed him most. He's always been more of a friend than an authority.

The kind of man I aspire to be.

Now that so much time has passed, i often times remember that night when he was reunited with us. How tired he must have been, the fear, anxiety and the terrible weight he must have felt of being parted from his family.

I've had many moments of doubt, of anger, of frustration. Much more so in these recent weeks, where i tend to disappear from the world. Times where i just want to get up and walk away. times where i just want to say fuck it and leave.

Then i think of what my family has gone through. How many sacrifices have been made, and are yet to be made. I think of the joy my father had when he was reunited with us, and how tired and sad his eyes look now.

That's when I realize I can't walk away.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Si Se Puede

A few days ago a grabbed a burger for lunch at a Burger King close to my job. As i pulled up to the window to pay i recognized the young man that was taking my money. His name was Antonio. I had worked with him back in 2007 during my stint at burger king (not this particular location though). He recognized me as well and we got to catching up.

I told him I had graduated and that i was working nearby, and i asked how he was doing and how his son was. "ya arregle" , he told me with a huge smile on his face.

literal translation: I was fixed

Meaning his status had been adjusted. He told me he had the final interview in the next few days and that his social had been sent out to him. I congratulated him. I couldn't believe it. Happiness filled my body, and i felt so relieved for Antonio.

we exchanged phone numbers and agreed to meet up one of these days to catch up over some food.

As i drove away i could not help but think, if i felt such happiness for Antonio getting his papers, how would it feel if i got mine?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My Name Is

March 15-21st is National Undocumented Coming Out Week.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Quick Update before i go jogging

Spent two days going to two different clinics. First one didn't calm my worries, since it was kinda shady. The second was more in dept check up and included a blood test.

Yet they didnt specifically say what is wrong or if it is anything to worry too much about.

what i do know from the second clinic is that my glucose level seems to be a bit high, not diabetic but still need to manage this better, and that the doctor thinks this is also caused by stress. (he asked me what i was stressed about- immigration says I).

I was told that i should monitor my leg symptoms for 2 weeks and if it got worse i should go back. ditto. Also to keep jogging and take vitamin B6. got it.

the blood test is for diabetes, cholesterol and any deficiencies.

I hope it is all just stress and that it will pass. But for now imma go for a run.

cheers

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Check Up

Woke up at 2am, had a slight ringing in my ears, and felt the leg acting up. not sure if im being neurotic or what. fell asleep again at 430.

woke up at 8 and the two middle toes on my left foot are numb. this made up my mind.

Called work 5 minutes ago, not going in. Im going to go to various health clinics and see which one i can afford so i can get a physical, and blood test done.

this leg thing is worrying me.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Numb Foot

It started a month ago. I was taking a nap and when i woke up i noticed that two toes on my left foot were asleep. I took my sock off thinking that it was too tight. Not much thought.

Then in LA i noticed this happening more, but i blamed it on the weird positions i had while crashing on friend's couches. The problem however has gotten considerably worse.

Now i feel my foot get numb. not just my toes. And my shin feels odd. So i did what any one in my condition would do. I google searched the symptoms.

The results consist of mainly: pinched nerve, or diabetes.

I'm a little worried since Diabetes runs in my family. I am praying that it is a pinched nerve (since i also began running again about one month ago). But as the time is passing the leg seems to be more and more susceptible to variations in my eating habits.

I googled a health clinic, since i dont have health insurance, and will probably try to go in and get check out.

Funny how in the middle of this whole health care debacle i suddenly have a much higher appreciation for the need of health insurance :p

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ironic part 2

Daniel is a blue eyed, blonde, American 21 year old. I have worked with him for 7 months.

His step mother is the Vice President of the company i work for.

He is a nice kid, but also a troubled young man, who doesn't take his job seriously (its his first) and has a lot of growing up to do.

Daniel is moving to Costa Rica, in what he considers a move to solve all his problems. When I asked him how he is going he replied "I am going as a tourist and then going to Nicaragua every 3 months so my visa stays legit."

I asked him how he was going to make a living he paused, a grin on his face he said " I am going to work under the table. Illegally."

Daniel is not aware of my status, but boy....i considered asking him if he wanted to give me his US citizenship.

Young immigrants Have to Grow Up Fast

Great Article from a while back (ran in to it from I am a shadows blog)


The following quote pretty much nails it for me (too):

"What’s different about the stresses facing undocumented immigrants, and what most young people interviewed for this story kept repeating, is the sense that doors that might be opened to help relieve a bit of the stress — education, legalization, a good paying job — are permanently closed. It’s not just that mom and dad can’t be there to lend a helping hand to help pay for college, it’s that the chances of getting a better paying job to save money for school are slim, and even if they manage to graduate, the chances of landing a secure job are still miniscule. This, combined with an uncertain future where deportation is a constant worry, can weigh heavily on a young person and make them feel old beyond their years, they say."


The Reason Why

The very first thing my parents told me when we came to this country was " do not tell anyone about how we came, and that we have no papers." It was taboo. forbidden to discuss it with anyone. At seven years old, this order instilled a fear with in me about telling others that i was undocumented. It made me feel ashamed, guilty, scared, and less.

Up until 2008 I had only disclosed my status to my very closes friends. Friends that i had known for more than ten years. Friends that no matter what i could count on. Other than them, everyone else saw me as a normal US citizen working his was through college.

But the burden of having this secret still laid heavy on my conscience. A gripping fear drove me to cover up my tracks, and to create elaborate stories on why i didn't have ID, or get school loans. At one point some of my friends thought i was a bad ass for driving with out a license, because i had told them i had gotten arrested when i was younger and couldn't get my license until i turned 21.

Yet living that double life is unsustainable. It lets the situation define me, more so than it should. It makes me feel ashamed, and I should not have to feel that way.

So i decided to start telling people I know, from some of my other closest friends to even acquaintances, about my status. Why? because it empowers me, it allows me to define my situation in a way that I want.

The majority of people are supportive when they find out. Most of them are astounded and dumbstruck. For example my room mate, who learned of my situation a while before we moved in, has been there for me in some of the times when i get real down. " focus on something productive asshole, and don't let what you can't control consume you. Change what you can control", he cuts me no slack, and i appreciate that.

Only in one instance have i had one terrible experience when telling some one my status, this was prior to 2008, and it scarred me and wounded me deeply. Yet I learned from it.

And so I decided to write. At first it was therapeutic, cathartic and soothing to let out what i have held deep in side for so long.

130+ posts later it still is about healing, but it has also become about information. In telling others my reality i found how much confusion there really about the undocumented population. The stereotypes and myths are really ingrained into peoples minds.

So I write this blog, my random rants, my inconsistent themes, my fears and worries. I write so that others can "see" the reality of one undocumented man. By no means am I qualified to represent the entire complex spectrum that is the undocumented community.

But if by sharing my life, my situation, my narrative, some one out there sits down and rethinks their ideas about undocumented immigrants, then I consider that I may have made a slight difference.

And that too is healing.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

GIR in February

GIR is gaining momentum. here is the February Update:


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

You Dont Have an Accent

*****DISCLAIMER: this is a free write*********

The wind is cold. it is 2 am on the 15th. I was just in front of Mina's house chatting with her and gift. Now the red and blue lights are reflected from my rear view mirror. gift is quiet. I am shit scared.

Officer is stone faced. Stern, almost angry look upon him. Gets straight to it.

"Do you have a license?"
No.
"why not"
I cant get one.
a deputy approaches the other window. they ask for ID. We give them our passports.
"step out of the vehicle"
I'm out. fucking cold wind. Officer is behind me. Gift is in the car being questioned by the deputy.

The officer puts me against the hood of his patrol car. Bright search light in my face. He takes my hands and asks me to put them behind my back.

a fucking criminal.

He pats me down. "do you have any drugs on you?" takes out my wallet, keys everything.
No. Of course not.

Looks at my passport. "are you illegal?"My anger rises.

No.
I am undocumented.

"you dont have an accent"
Ive been here a long time.
"why dont you have a license?"
I cant get one, the laws are messed up. I was brought as a small child. I give him DREAMers 101 in a nutshell.
"hmmm"
yeah. i even have a bachelors
"where did you go to school"
San Jose State.
More feigned interest.
"Wait out here with your hands on the hood"
yes officer

The deputy takes gift out of my car. The officer is going through my passport. deputy takes gift to the back of the patrol car, starts to put him in. "no, put him in the front" says the other.

I cant look at gift. Im fucking scared. I look down. The deputy is going through my car, desperately looking for drugs. I thank the stars i'm a square. My mind runs. is this a 287g city, fuck. i dont have my cell phone with all my numbers. fuck what if they take us in. fuck who do i call. my parents dont have any of my contact's numbers. fuck. fuck. fuck.

I see flashes of 2007. this is worse. We're outside. hands behind our backs. car is searched. wind is freezing. the deputy tries to open my trunk

the key doesnt work. you have to pop it from the front.

She struggles. She is looking hard for drugs. The other officer is looking through his computer, probably running the plates. Mine have a license plate cover, "Alumni San Jose State".

what if they take my car away, what if they take us in. What if. My mind then goes blank. and i think. so what. if they take me in and they take me into detention then fine. it will be over. and i wont have to struggle with this. No.

I find myself suddenly praying. Hypocrite.

Thirty minutes. Then we get our passports back. We ask if we can put them in our pockets

please master. yest master. ok master.

Deputy says yes. we can go.

"Gabriel"
Yes officer. I walk to his window.
" I should take your car and arrest you. But im going to let you go because you seem like a decent guy"
Thanks Officer. I really appreciate ( how you profiled me, searched my car, insulted me and treated me like a criminal) it.

A decent guy. wow

" try to get your license"
I am trying to actively change the laws which prevent me from being able to participate in society. I am working with other organizers to do this so we can all have IDs and licenses. Thanks again officer, i appreciate it.

They leave. We get in the car. shaken as hell. quiet for a few seconds as the fear lingers.

then we drive back to Mina's house.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

No Taxation With Out Representation


Once again this "illegal" Immigrant has paid taxes.

Yes sir, just filed my tax forms. I saw how much money went to federal taxes, Social Security taxes and State Income taxes. Money that I wont get to see, since i don't have a social security number.

lets not forget the sales taxes that i paid on filling up my car this morning, or when i bought groceries last night. The whole myth of undocumented immigrants no paying taxes is so dis-proven that i wont even go there. Ill just let my paid taxes do the talking.

It's Ironic though, that my hard work is funding the Social Security Administration so that retired people such as "Brittanicus" (an online anti immigrant troll) can say how much i deserve to be kicked out of this country.

I wonder if the Tea baggers...erm i mean Tea Partiers will let me join in their "anti tax" movement jajaja

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lost in Los Angeles

Thanks to Nando, Lizbeth, Eric, Mina, Gladys and all the socal people






Friday, February 12, 2010

Road Trip

I got on an airplane and flew to Houston, Texas last year. It was an experience full of growth. I felt like an adult for the first time in my "adult" life.

Tomorrow I am driving to Los Angeles. By myself.

I've always wanted to take this trip, since driving is cathartic for me, and after being in one place for 20+ years changing my surroundings (even if it is LA) for a while is soothing.. But i have been scared up to this point.

That is what it is all about now though.

No longer being scared.


See ya in LA

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Truth About Superman


Look up in the sky its a bird! No its a plane! No its..its... its...an Illegal Alien.

To the shock of the world we've learned that after more than seven decades of saving hard-working Americans, we have all been lied to.One of our most beloved superheroes, Superman, is nothing more than an illegal alien.

Otherwise know by his Kryptonian name as Kal-el, Superman has been living in the United States illegally for over seven decades and has been leading a double life the whole time.

Originally from the planet Krypton, The Man of Steel crash landed in Kansas sometime around 1938, and was "adopted" by Martha and Jonathan Kent, who named him Clark. There are no legal records of this adoption. There are absolutely no records of a Clark Kent other than his Daily Planet bylines and desk tag.

No fingerprints on file, no green card, no social security number, no driver's license under a Clark Kent.

This begs the question who exactly is Clark Kent?

Stocky, balding and with a mid-western accent Clark H. Kent leans on his Ford truck as he says how many calls he's received at his Minnesota home from credit card companies requesting payment for "overdue hotel stays in Cairo, Paris, Sydney...it's ridiculous, I can't for the life of me convince them that I've never left the country."

But Superman is not only guilty of committing identity theft, he has also obtained a free education from Metropolis U. , taking away a seat for an otherwise qualified American citizen. This illegal alien has had a free ride at the cost of the American tax payer.

"We had no idea that Mr. Kal-El was an illegal," says Metropolis U's Dean of Admissions. "We always though he was a regular all-American linebacker. Without him we wouldn't have gone to state. What a shame..."

Aside from getting a free education, Old Blue Eyes has been scamming the system by working illegally at the Daily Planet, where this reporter used to work before he was laid off. There is no record of Mr Kent paying taxes.

"This is disgusting!" popular TV show host Glenn Beck says of this new revelation. "He should be locked up in a a detention center made of kryptonite! Here we have so many hard-working American superheroes, such as Batman, Spider-Man and non other than Captain America, and we have this illegal alien taking their JOBS...it..it...it is appalling."

Batman, Spider-Man and Captain America could not be reached for comment, however it should be noted that Spider-Man is of Polish decent, Batman has Italian immigrant parents and Captain America was born in Australia and only recently became a naturalized citizen.

"I've been right about this all along," said arch nemesis Lex Luthor, of Luthor Corp. "For years I've been fighting this invasion that is destroying our country." Mr. Luthor is currently working on his book Fighting Illegal Aliens.

Once a symbol of freedom and all that was good in America, Superman has become nothing more than a lie fabricated by an illegal alien living off the fruit of hard-working Americans.

We have been fooled America.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

GIR

GIR is a satire.

It stands for "Gabe Immigration Reform" and it was spawned from an inside joke that some of us have.

In an arena often full of seriousness and melancholy, it is my contribution. An effort to not only bring a light to the ridiculousness that is the current immigration system, but also an effort to bring smiles to people.

Of course some people can't differentiate between humor and reality so here is the disclaimer (in case you missed the satire part above)

Disclaimer: The GIR Video Series is a satire on the current US immigration system, where one of the only legal pathways for a DREAM Act students would be through marriage. The person in the video is trying to seek marriage for legalization purposes in much the same sincerity as he is trying to win the Nobel peace prize by finding the cure for cancer, then win an academy award, and play in the NBA, in which case, would allow him to legalize under the circumstances of extraordinary talent. The person in this video is not interested in marriage but rather raising awareness at the ridiculousness of the broken immigration system.

Hope it makes y'all smile

GIR Campaign launch dec 25th 2009




GIR January 2010 update

Thursday, January 28, 2010

State of the Union has no room for Immigrants

38 seconds is what immigration reform got. The last issue to be touched before ending his speech.

Talk about commitment. about 7000 words in the President's speech and this is the commitment to immigration reform:

"And we should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system - to secure our borders, enforce our laws, and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nation. "
Translation:
"I'm putting this only to semi satisfy my 'promise' to pro immigrant groups and latinos; in reality i don't really have a time table or the interest in dealing with this yet. But now you can't say i didnt touch immigration reform in my state of the union address"


Is this the same Obama that during the campaign bragged of how he "marched right with" us in Chicago? The same Obama that said that the DREAM Act could be passed immediately? The same Obama who promised immigration reform in 2009, then again promised it in 2010? The same Obama who has an Aunt that is affected by the very same arcane immigration system that he is maintaining at status quo levels?

I remember watching intently during the 2008 democratic debate, where Jorge Ramos touched upon the immigration debate. Then Candidate Obama made it a point to highlight the urgency of the DREAM Act. He said "I do not want two classes of citizens in this country"

I remember this moment:

I'm really starting to believe in this "change" he was talking about.

Prerna, over at Change.org, is right when she says
We should see a Senate bill soon, but whether Congress and the President put all their energy into getting it passed this year is another story for another day. Latinos voted for change when they voted for President Obama. But we should also act like we are hungry for change, rather than sit on our laurels expecting things to fall into place.

For Obama, if this type of failure continues well into 2010, many disgruntled voters will just stay at home come midterm-elections and Democrats will lose more seats due to their unwillingness to pass legislation of great importance to immigrant communities, a growing part of their base.

I sum it up with: what a dissapointment.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Its 1:26 am and im awake

I wonder how we know when the universe aligns?

Is there a cosmic jolt and boom!

did you just feel it shake?

I believe in signs, strategically placed all around us to give is clues.

"yo dood, over here"

And i think i felt my jolt.

well. let the search begin


a total stranger one black day
knocked living the hell out of me--

who found forgiveness hard because
my(as it happened)self he was

-but now that fiend and i are such
immortal friends the other's each
- EE Cummings.




Tomorrow is another day. Ill figure out then

Friday, January 22, 2010

Furries

Sometimes i'm privy to some weird shit....these guys are called Furries:



I bet these doods can relate to finding some one who understands you online :)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What Can Brown do for You?

The aftershocks of Tuesday’s special election in Massachusetts are being felt in every corner of the United States’ political spectrum. Republicans are once again foaming at the mouth. Democrats, well, they continue to be Democrats, weak, timid and like an ostrich with its head in the sand.

Word is spreading like the plague. Health Care Reform is dead, Finance Regulation Reform is dead, Energy Reform is dead.

Immigration reform is dead.

It’s spreading to immigrants. From frustrated students, undocumented immigrants working everywhere, to even legal immigrant and citizen family members.

“I’m worried”, text from my 21 year old sister after the election results.

“shit”, IM from a Southern California student activist

“We should start thinking about a plan to move”, my 62 year old father on the phone this morning, on how this will affect the immigration time table.

I feel numb. Like I was punched in the gut. How Americans can choose to forget so quickly what the past 8 years under republican rule brought them is beyond me. How they can fail to see that republicans have stood in the way of every single thing that Obama has tried to do is mind boggling. How they can once again be suckered (yes suckered) by the slogan of “change”, only this time by the very group they where trying to “change” from, is surreal.

Brown says the he is his “own man” and reports to no one. Yet he tauted himself as the 41st vote agaist HCR, and when it comes to immigration he embraces the same Draconian “enforcement only” policies that Republicans have promoted for years. Yep, more change.

In 2008 I promised myself that I was going to give myself until the end of 2010 before I threw in the towel and said goodbye to my country. The United States.

I’ll be damned if I am going to go with out a fight.

So Mr. Brown and fellow republicans. Get ready, because I am not giving up.

And when I finally get to vote as a citizen, I will not so easily forget, like they did in Massachusetts.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Odd (job) Man

Jobs

Pre Bachelors:

Taco Bell - Dishwasher, Cashier, Cook, Window Cleaner.
Sheet metal shop- Graveyard Shop helper, Reg Schedule Accounting Clerk
McDonalds- Cashier, Janitor, Truck Unloader,
Warehouse #1 - Pallet loader, Warehouse Monkey, Warehouse monkey lead, Dispatcher
Burger King- Cashier


Post Bachelors:

Contract Technical Writer- Wrote manuals, translated white papers, ect
Warehouse #2 - truck unloader, Boxer ( i made boxes)
Foreign Contract manufacturer #1- assistant "engineer", oversaw line employees, translated SOPs,ect.
Foreign Contract manufacturer #2 - Warehouse monkey, laptop repair tech, Customer service, all around fireman




Will work for Papers

Monday, January 18, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Fear Tactics

The following texts were among the many i received Thursday afternoon:

" Wei ay redadas de emigracion"
" Just received news that ICE is doing a sweep in Bay area be careful"
" ICE check points in san jose"

Memories of 2006 came back. Hearing about an immigration raid next door to where i worked. Hiding in the back of the warehouse through my lunch. the fear.

The word was spreading, even while i was at work. Immigration Check points in multiple streets. Immigration checking people's status at bus stops. The streets and the bus stops all where in predominantly Latino neighborhoods. profiling.

It makes me angry.

Angry to feel so impotent to the fact that at any given moment i could be driving down the wrong street, at the wrong time. With a flash of a light, a criminalizing procedure and one question, my whole life, my whole foundation is uprooted.

Angry at the impotence i feel because i want so bad to change this system, where a father is torn from his family because he was taking the bus home from work. Where a mother driving her kid to karate practice is now in a detention center, because she took a wrong turn. Where a student is afraid to drive to class, because there is a check point.

"papers please" = Fuck you. you second class citizen, you're a criminal in our eyes and you will be hunted like one. Who cares if you have a family. Who cares if your son is a US citizen, or your case is pending.

What? you have a degree, well use it in your country. What you pay taxes? go pay them in Mexico. Huh? your wife is a US Citizen, well she will need to go with you.

Sorry.

My father was here in 1978. He told me of how Immigration would stop a man on the street if he looked "illegal". Looked "illegal".

It's 2010. Obama administration. Change. progress. yet the persecution. the fear mongering. the separation of families still occurs.

I want that Change Mr. Obama. Because so far i don't believe in what ever "this" is.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

RIFA Movement Building Traning

Prelude:
Almost nine hours in a car. We left at 1:30 headed to Oakland to pick up Ju, and then once there hit the 880 to the 580 to the 5...oooof. Traffic was intense until we hit the 5 and then it was smooth sailing from there. I took the week somewhere around Modesto and drove us in to beautiful downtown Los Angeles. Arrival time 10pm.

The training was held at the downtown Marriot Hotel (all i had to say was: Sup fancy), our room on the eight floor was sweet. I think i like this. Then I got a text from my buddy Gift "i'm here".

Gift, is one of the very first people that i connected with on DAP, yet he always had this aura of mysteriousness, at some point i even thought he might be undercover ICE. Through out the past year we have connected, since our experience has been very very very similar, same age, worked through school and now this. I had promised to meet him way back in april 2009. Finally it would become a reality.

The training would not start until Saturday at 9am, so I had told Gift i would be free to hangout friday. He and a buddy picked me up at the hotel and we went for a few beers, and some nice conversation. Once again i am amazed at the level of ease with which the transition from digital to analog contact occurs. Not an awkward moment, no weird silences; nothing but laughs and good times. We ended up going on a hunt for Kogi tacos (Korean BBQ taco truck...yes i know...there is a god). Overall the night was awesome, so i extend my biggest gratitude to "jack" for being such a cool dood and driving us around.
Back to the Hotel 3:30am.

Training:

I was not sure what to expect at this training. To be quite honest, i was a bit skeptical about it all. Being a bit burned out from some of the let downs from 2009. Yet i figured it would be great to add to my knowledge base of the movement and to meet and network with some great people.

I saw many familiar faces there, Matias, Kemi, Lizbeth, Erick and Benita (whom i knew only via electronic 1's and 0's). I also met a ton of new people (shout outs include): Cyndi, Jeff, Yohanna, Jose, Julieta, Carlos, Macrina, Ivette, Juan, Ivan,Italia, The Rosa kids, and many many more.

The first part of training was focused on the power of narrative, the power that our stories have to make people connect and join our cause. We broke off into smaller groups and shared our stories, then gave each other feed back. The regrouped in the conference room and a few of us were picked to share our stories. There was a powerful story told by a young lady who's name escapes my mind at the moment; she told of how eve with the barriers she faced she continued to go forward and get multiple degrees only to face the frustration of being unable to use them. I was also called to share my story, and as always i improvised and grabbed from by trunk of bits and pieces. This was the biggest crowd to date for which i have shared my story (120ppl) and it felt so liberating. The support for us was extraordinary.

The next part of the training focused on moving from a story of me to us, and forming strategy and goals. then focusing on specific skill sets that form the team. Overall i was impressed with the level of participation, support and attentiveness at this (my first) training.


I was satisfied to see so many people of so many backgrounds coming together to plan and start the movement to get just and humane immigration reform passed.

We left Sunday night at around 6:30, and even though i arrived at my apartment at 2:30 in the morning, i felt re-energized, motivated and calm

Monday, January 11, 2010

Back From LA


I went to LA for a Movement Building Traning. Which prepares one to be an organizer in one's community. I met a ton of great people and even had tacos with some one i've been trying to meet for ages. More detailed post on this tonight.

Anyways, Im back and Energized

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

lost...will pay

I lost my paper journal at a coffee shop last weekend. damn.

Ive been keeping a journal since 19, when i started working at McDonalds. Ive gone thru one per year. this was journal 8 - year 20.

Some where out there a person is reading my innermost rants, looking at my random sketches and wondering what the hell is wrong with this person jaja.

Anyhow. if you see a ragged old moleskin covered in news paper trimmings, give me a heads up ya?

Theres a reward for the emotional value of the content.

Friday, January 1, 2010