By CAROLINA VALDIVIA
After 14 years of growing up undocumented in the United States, my husband and I received the news this week that our adjustment of status application was approved and that I am now a legal permanent resident. The morning that the news came in, I was sitting in my Latin@s Remaking America course taught by one of my amazing mentors at Harvard. I was getting my notebook and pen ready, and watching La Santa Cecilia’s “ICE/El Hielo” playing on the screen at the front of the classroom (every class begins with a song that relates to the topic we will be covering. This week, we were talking about immigration).
I have seen the music video for La Santa Cecilia’s “ICE/El Hielo” quite a few times. Every single time I watch the video… I can’t help but tear up. The music video reminds me of the fear, insecurity, uncertainty, loss, and pain that I (and many of my loved ones) have experienced growing up undocumented. Before class started, I tried to distract myself for a moment to avoid tearing up; I glanced at my phone and decided to check for any updates regarding the adjustment of status application. We had been waiting for a decision all weekend and had no idea when the news would arrive… and there it was:
To be completely honest, the news hasn’t quite sunk in and it will definitely take some time. Growing up undocumented over the years I have lived in fear, insecurity, pain, and uncertainty. I also learned to stay strong. I am incredibly lucky and thankful that I have had a tremendous amount of support from those around me and the larger community at every step of the way.
I have always been reminded that I am not alone, and that my story and dreams matter: from my family whose courage and strength continue to guide me, my husband whose love and care transform me, my friends whose support keep me strong, my mentors whose passion and guidance inspire me, and to all others who I haven’t yet met in person but connected through the blog whose stories and support ground me. It has definitely taken a community for me to stay strong, overcome obstacles, and pursue my dreams as an undocumented mujer of color.
I am thankful that through my work I can give back to others. Undoubtedly, the struggle continues so that we can change the laws that criminalize, limit, and dehumanize us. From my research, writing, teaching, service, and blog… I look forward to continuing my dedication to this cause.