To exist while undocumented is to live explaining why you deserve to be in this country, is to deconstruct the word immigrant and construct its real meaning every time you create a sentence describing yourself. Existing while undocumented is to struggle because you exist in a place where you are foreign and thus criminalized. It is to constantly have to link your existence to the taxes you pay, where you go to school and how many hours you work a week. Being undocumented forces you to define your character and explain all your good attributes every time you say your name with your native accent, its correct pronunciation.
I am confident that our identity goes beyond a simple definition or explanation, its complexity cannot be defined and should not be continuously explained. Sometimes I wish we all could just say, “I’m a human being” and understand that as the best option to describe ourselves; no arguments. Nevertheless, I comprehend that not everyone has gone through my struggle and cannot empathize with me. I acknowledge that we all come from different paths and thus every single one of us has acquired a unique way of understanding identities, races, and even colors. My lifelong journey has built my unafraid character through years of struggle and lately months of healing, some people’s privileges might have not allowed them to see the bigger picture. For instance, for years I lived ashamed for being in this country without a lawful status. It took years for me to understand that I should have not been afraid all that time because I had not done a thing wrong. Likewise, it might take years for people —who do not understand my struggle fully— to finally empathize with me.
The undocumented struggle has changed my heart, it may change yours if you allow it. I fight for my undocumented community. I have become active in my community because my struggle taught me that if I stay quiet, the change will never take place in my life. I accept as true that the day I left fear behind was the day I freed my soul. You should free your soul with me. Let’s be free!
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Gina is a citizen of the world born in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico. She immigrated to the U.S. when she was 15 years old. After facing a countless number of discriminatory acts because of her immigration status, she decided to become a resilient mujer. The day she stepped out of the shadows, she empowered herself. She started her journey as an organizer and writer.
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