A friend’s reflection On DAPA: “Pain in our hearts”

I post an email my friend Carlos sent (and requested we share) on the day the U.S. Supreme Court decided to defer justice for over 4 million undocumented immigrants.

I sometimes wish I could just look away from struggle I see north of the border, in the same way our pain post-deportation has been ignored by the movement en el otro lado, on the other side. Not because I lack empathy, but because I feel I should be focusing on addressing a situation in Mexico that is worsening as consequence of a crisis trifecta: (1) failed US immigration and deportation policies, (2) a failed US immigrant movement, and (3) a failed Mexican state. But then, I remind myself that when there is no justice for one person it means there is no justice for all.

Furthermore, our struggles are so intrinsically connected that this situation is a painful reminder for immigrant advocates to look beyond their U.S. bubble, and I was quick to remind them of that in a recent Facebook post:

 

The bottom line: A paradigm shift is required when facing a collective crisis. Carlos, who is a long time immigrant justice organizer, invites you to consider an alternative to harvest, Cosecha(r), a movement. Political negotiation is no longer a viable strategy. It is time to shake the status quo.

Cosecha-MC
“When our political power is not enough, we have to use our economic and labor power” Credit: Movimiento Cosecha – Harvest Movement

 

I am hopeful that this can pave the way for a collective justice fight that can unite our parallel struggles across borders.

 


Hello Friends,

As many of you know today is a day of anger and rage for the undocumented community. The supreme court pretty much stalled our possibilities of legalizing temporarily over 4 million people. Out of those 4 million people, 2 of them were my aunt and uncle that were the first people in my family to come to the US over 20 years ago, they are still undocumented and they would have qualified though my 18 year old us born cousin.

I juts want to share that I’m tired of having dinner with them and telling them that they have to wait longer, that this is another failure for our movement. No more, no más. That is why we are working to really change the political weather for my people in this country and I need your help.

You know what I’m doing, Cosecha, people on the street love hearing about the boycott, the strike, permanent protection for their families and the ability to have dignity and respect through struggle.

Please support us by signing up to our list serve, we are going to be taking a summer of actions(and you have to be engage!) and donate to support a movement not owned by the democratic party but by the people.

But mostly please take tonight to think about those families, have them on your heart with us, pray for them and wish the movement luck, we certainly need it.

Carlos

There’s no place like home – Los Angeles.

A true Los Angeles native knows that life without a car is no life at all. This L.A. transplant of 20 years whose coming of age happened in the great City of Angels couldn’t agree more. She would also learn that life without Los Angeles is hard to imagine.

To love L.A. is to drive it. Even when you can’t get a license, an undocumented Angelino/a finds a way. We were certainly forced to find one after 1994 when licenses stopped being issued for folks without papers (although that has recently changed with legislation granting California Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Residents).

Oh, yes! I remember the first car I drove. This car was what we call a carcacha, it definitely looked like a clunker; but on my last year of college it spared me the agony of the daily commute from my home in South Central L.A. to the San Fernando Valley, and back. On a good day I would spent four hours hopping on three buses and a metro. With that kind of commute I was certainly no friend of the Los Angeles public transportation system, but I was determined to get a college education and 30 miles were not going to get in my way. No way! Besides, the long rides gave me time to do my homework or take a nap, my antidote to a normalized sleep deprived life style.

When my dad had enough savings to buy me a car, it didn’t matter it was a vehicle that looked as it was ready to head to the car graveyard. In its past life, it had survived an accident that left a dent on the door on the driver’s side, but any repairs done to it didn’t remove the evidence that it was a survivor, like me. It had a missing window that was usurped by a type of plastic that was good enough to look like a glass window, but it distorted the driver’s view, giving it a blurred vision effect that made driving it either bit interesting or hazardous, depending on the type of driver you are. As long as I never had to take it any place where valet parking was required, I was good to go!

This minivan made me fall in love with Los Angeles, its multiculturalism, diversity, gentrification and segregation, all for the price of one. It took me everywhere I needed to go and become the car that made me a happy and fearless driver on the 101/405 FWYs. In my post-college years, so much of my life was dependent on my car. Going to work meetings, road trip to Las Vegas with my family to spend the holidays, rushing to meet my friends for happy hour, even grocery shopping.

LA-Street-MC

 

After graduation, I upgraded by purchasing my first car, a red Camry Toyota that allowed me to continue my driving relationship with LA. This one survived a Freeway accident and an immigration persecution. Yeah, the one where I was stopped on my way to work. I’m sure my car will never forgive the officers for forcing me to leave it stranded in the middle of the street to be towed away. The bloody bastards!

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Separating from a movement that never was: Los Otros Dreamers and the “dreams in Mexico” out of reach for most

It was three years ago, in the month of May, when my life in activism started in Mexico. I spoke about my experience of deportation for the first time in a public event in Tijuana. It was the first of many moments that led me to meet others with similar experiences. I was becoming hopeful of the possibility of a movement of deported and returned youth in Mexico.

Two years after my post-deportation “coming out”, I found myself sitting in a conference room in Mexico City with a group of around seven people. The plan was to discuss ways in which we could organize around a cause, identify a mission and objective and immerse ourselves in the theory and history of political movements so that we could build from the knowledge of the past.

Among those engaged in the dialogue were “voluntary” returnees, couple of us de facto deportees, and a few handful of allies of “the cause”. What united all of us was the “Los Otros Dreamers” book which would featured our experiences of return/deportation, a project that would give us a label many of us would adopt. The book was scheduled to be released on the same weekend of our transnational encuentro we had started in that conference room with the leadership group.

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Transnational Conference, September 2014 – Mexico City

 

As the coordinator of the training agenda, my intention was to create an open, safe, and powerful space from which we could discuss how we would advocate on behalf of a generation of US-educated youth that had been returning (in)voluntarily to Mexico in mass numbers for years. But in the middle of the dialogue, we seemed to have different visions and it was not clear they would be compatible. Although I did not realize this in that moment, overtime it became evident that we wanted different things. Yes, we all had good intentions of being inclusive of the diversity of experiences and perspectives, and we wanted to help in some way; but at the end, some of us would later end up feeling left out.

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