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My Mother Is An Undocumented Immigrant And She Is Fearless

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Crossposted from Medium.

A couple of years ago I dedicated a short essay for my mother in celebration of Mother’s Day.

At the time I found myself without money — and the thought that I could not even afford to mail a card to my mother pained me.

This essay was the only gift I could give to mother at the time, and I wanted to make sure I conveyed how much I appreciated everything she had done for our family.

With help from some friends, I was able to fix my clumsy Spanish spelling and grammar, and hit publish.

I often recall this essay. Not because it was a low point in my life, but because writing it was such a challenge. At the time my mother was still dealing with the many issues that face many undocumented immigrants, and was not ready to be public about her status.

My mother was afraid of being deported, a fear I had personally shed many years ago. And yet, here I was — publishing an essay where I exposed some her deepest fears.

I did not publish that essay to put my mother in the spotlight. Rather, I wanted to show her that her hard work and sacrifices had not gone unnoticed throughout the year s— and that her immigrant story had to be told.

I wanted my mother to own her personal narrative, to know that she was capable of shedding he fear of deportation, and that there was a network of support for her should she ever find herself in a difficult situation.

Four years have passed since I published that essay — and in that time my mother has embraced her undocumented identity.

Without any shame, or fear, my mother has become an outspoken advocate for immigration reform. No longer is my mother bound by the fear that somebody could call ICE and report her.

My mother is now fearless. She has adopted the fight for immigration reform as her own, and seeks any opportunity to be as involved as possible.

In fact, she has taken embraced her undocumented identity faster than I imagined.

A couple of weeks ago, for the first time in over a decade, my mother decided to board a flight. Her destination was Washington D.C., where should join me and thousands of other advocates to rally in support of DAPA and DACA+ — two temporary relief programs that are being considered by the Supreme Court as a result of Republican lawsuit.

Neither of parents would benefit from DAPA or DACA+, and they know this. Yet, my mother jumped at the opportunity to join me in Washington D.C. She convinced my father to take a day off work!

The day of the rally my mother even donned the t-shirt I had gotten for her, which read in bold letters “UNDOCUMENTED, UNAFRAID, AND UNAPOLOGETIC.”

This was the same woman who once tried to dissuade me from being outspoken about by immigration status. Here she was, ready and willing to fight for a program that would not grant her any type of immigration relief.

“Es un paso adelante,” my mother told me at the rally, understanding that DAPA and DACA+ are a step forward for millions of immigrants across the community.

“Nuestro alivio ya llegara,” my mother continued — “our relief will arrive soon.”

If you ask my mother why I chose to get involved in politics, she will tell you that it was out of necessity, that I am a “leader,” and that she is proud of me. However, the truth is that it is my mother’s determination and unwavering spirit that give me strength to continue fighting for immigration reform.

I am so proud of my mother for overcoming her fears, it because of her and my father that I have been able to accomplish so much.