August 07, 2012
My name is Daniela, I’m undocumented. I have been on the bus since Phoenix, Arizona, and I would like to share my experience of interacting with undocumented people on the bus, and community members in Denver, Colorado.
Although I’ve been involved in activism in my state and around the country, it has always been with other undocumented young people, specifically those fighting for the DREAM Act, and have focused on the experience of Arizona. Being on the bus has been a new experience for me, because besides getting to know the laws that are taking place in other states, I have had the chance to talk to undocumented people who are older than me, who have had different experiences, and who are coming out for the first time in their lives.
One of the things that was different about this experience from my organizing in the past was not just meeting with young people, but with older undocumented people who often go unnoticed. I have worked with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA), which has mostly been led by undocumented young people – although that is changing as we are including our parents and others in the community. What I saw in Denver and with the participants on the bus, is that there are other groups of people, particularly adults, who are taking on the inspiration from the work we are doing as young people, and making it their own.
I am inspired for example by Mari Cruz Jimenez, one of the riders, and the mother of two of the people who were part of a civil disobedience I participated in last March 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. She is on the bus because she saw the work that her children and I were doing, and is ready to do it herself. Seeing her talk about her story, and saying that she is “undocumented, unafraid” makes me feel like our work is inspiring others, and that it is not just our own, but belongs to all of us.
Denver was important to me also because being from Arizona and having lived there for 10 years, experiencing the harsh immigration laws there, I tend to forget about similar laws that are being approved in other states, and those that were put in place even before SB1070. I realize that sometimes I don't think about the fight that other states are going through, or the wonderful people that are working against such laws, both undocumented and citizens.
Being in Colorado and around people from there was an eye opener for me. While we were there we met with domestic workers, day laborers, and community members. They are amazing fighters, beautiful people full of love and strength and community power. They welcomed us with the biggest arms, heart warming smiles, and eyes that were full of power, strength and love, yet such humble human beings.
I got to learn about SB 90, a law that has been in effect for the last 6 years, and that is pretty much the same as Arizona's SB1070, with a stronger focus on the section that was recently declared constitutional by the Supreme Court, section 2B. It also impacted me to hear about a raid that took place a couple of years ago at a community party, where Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement (ICE) took six undocumented people who were with their kids, families and friends. According to the community, it took place for one simple reason- their skin color. This reminded me of the struggle we have been fighting in Arizona, and affirmed that immigration laws affect people in a lot more states, and how this fight doesn't belong to just one community but to ALL of us.
In Colorado people are still working on coming out of the shadows, and there is still fear. But seeing how much the beautiful people are giving from themselves and how they are ready to fight more for equality and don't give up even through tough times inspired me, fueled me up, and gave me more energy for this fight than I hadn't had in a long time.
It gave me so much hope for the journey we are in because it makes me realize that what we're doing is beyond ourselves, beyond our families, and beyond our communities, it's for every state, for every city, for EVERY person, documented or undocumented, young in age or young at heart. It's a message that has to get to everyone. Realizing that this fight is bigger than immigration, bigger than LGBTQ people, bigger than the DREAM Act, this is a fight for our beautiful fighters, for our beautiful people, for our strong activists, for our communities, for equality.