We’ve been publishing a series of posts from the DREAMers of the Campaign for an American DREAM. In March, they set off from San Francisco to begin a 3,000-mile, 8-month walk to Washington, DC to call attention to the DREAM Act and the need for immigration reform.
Today’s post is from Alex Aldana, a queer undocumented immigrant rights activist who works as a community organizer/health advocate for Latino LGBTQ youth, HIV/AIDS prevention, education, and treatment with social justice, advocacy and empowerment to immigrant communities impacted by health disparities in Southern California.
A friend of mine sent me a beautiful book a couple of weeks back. As I opened the wrappings I discovered “Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldúa”.
It’s nice to be reading again.
Books have played a very important part of my life. I don’t know where I would be without them. Studying, reading and writing have saved my life. When I suffered depression, reading provided some comfort. When I came to this land of opportunity, the thought of death and deportation was imminent. Here, it seemed that as an immigrant, my life was not worthy. Some people saw me as a criminal; others saw me as oppressed. In reading others’ stories, I found the reassurance to tell my own and to come out as undocumented — every day, if I had to. This was the remedy for my hardships as an undocumented youth, and one of the reasons I decided to push other borders with my activism.
Today, I carry Borderlands with me, along with other books for queer-immigrants. My backpack has more than water and meals for the day: it carries knowledge, medicine, and inspiration.
As we approach Denver, I knew great things are on their way again. As I neared my destination, I searched for a Wi-Fi hotspot and called my friend Javier.
I have been thinking about him every since I entered Colorado. When I had nobody to understand my frustrations with the immigration system, he was there to listen to me. When he had no one to talk with about queer issues, I was there for him.
On this journey, one thing has become clear to me: queer immigrants are everywhere. They’re the dishwasher at the restaurant, picking fruit on the farm field, doing mining work, attending church or going to high school. They’re all over this country.
However, many of them are still in the shadows, waiting to meet others like me: compassionate human beings who demand justice, dignity, and respect.
Helping to provide a safe space for undocumented queer immigrants, Javier and I, along with youth from The National Immigrant Youth Alliance: Undocuqueer Project, are reaching out to communities in this walk across the country. We’re asking people to share their stories and letting them know they are not alone.
When Colorado brings Secure Communities into affect, we organize against it within our own communities. When they try to uproot our culture by taking away our Chicano classes, we stand up and fight back for what is right and just.
This is the power of the immigrants of this country, warriors with a voice that will never be taken away. We continue to walk, to move forward, to awaken our brothers and sisters by defining citizenship, and asking what being an American means.
Someone asked me recently, “Why don’t you walk in the middle of the road so they can kill you? Why don’t you walk back to your country?”
I told them, “I am home, this is my home as well and I’m not going anywhere”.
It is important to educate the ignorant. In these border territories, where many still die imprisoned and deported, the government has handed down a death sentence to our communities with their extremist laws.
Today I walk for my ability to write, for my passion for documenting the undocumented, for the stories of youth and family empowerment across the nation. Today I begin to put together this book, written by my undocumented self because no legal status is going to stop me.That’s the way we roll the scroll. We won’t sit back and wait for others to tell our story.
Because for us colored queer undocumented immigrants, “Culture will never be deported”.