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CAD Walk 2012: One Year Since I was Placed in Deportation Proceedings

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We’ve been publishing a series of posts from the DREAMers of the Campaign for an American DREAM.  Last month, 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 Jonatan Martinez, a DREAMer from Georgia who recently came out as undocumented.

Learn more about the Campaign for an American DREAM here, and follow them on Twitter at @CADWalk2012.

This week has a strong significance to me. A year ago today I had no idea that my entire life was about to change. This Friday is April 20th, and although others know this day for other reasons, to me it stands for a paradigm shift in my life.

I started April 20th, 2011 like any other, passionate and thankful to be alive another day. I had no idea that I would be put into deportation proceedings later that day. I’m from the state of Georgia and just like Arizona and Alabama, we too have an anti-immigrant law, HB 87, that is unjust to innocent hardworking individuals. Because of Secure Communities, I was discovered as an undocumented student at Kennesaw State University while I was visiting a friend. I was placed in custody and sent to Stewart Detention Center (run by CCA). I remember this day like it just happened moments ago. I was scared and did not know what to expect. I was in the process of losing my hopes and DREAMs but most importantly, I was in the process of being shipped to a country I hadn’t seen since I was 4 years old. The fact of the matter is that our broken immigration system does this to DREAMers every day and we need to take a stand against these unjustified laws.

Although I’ve been fighting this battle since last year, I have yet to give up hope for an opportunity to remain in this country. In a way I am glad that I was placed in deportation proceedings. Without this hardship in my life, I would not be the person I am today. A year ago today, I was hiding in the shadows. I was “that guy” that everyone assumed was a U.S. citizen. No one had the slightest clue that I was undocumented. Today I stand proud to say that I am UNDOCUMENTED and UNAFRAID and that I will do everything that I can possibly do to ensure that DREAMers are heard across America. I am proud to walk into unknown places and show communities that DREAMers are not criminals. Today I stand proud to put one foot in front of the other with the Campaign for an American DREAM and to inspire youth to stand up for their future. I will not rest until we have established a solution to our corrupt, broken immigration system. I refuse to let others decide my future and the future of my fellow DREAMers.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

-Mahatma Gandhi-