“Go back to Mexico!” “Why is it so hard to just become legal?!” “They’re taking away our jobs!” “Illegal aliens!” “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…they’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume are good people.” This is the rhetoric that one hears on a daily basis–on social media, news outlets, the public, everywhere. Those last comments about Mexican migrants were made by the current President of the United States – horrendous, right? These were the egregious remarks Trump used to announce his campaign for presidency on June 16, 2015. This sort of xenophobic rhetoric has been around for quite some time, but it is because of him that it has ignited beyond measure. It is 2017 and the president of the United States is someone who initiated his campaign by perpetuating racism. Let that resonate.
Growing up, I never knew, let alone understood, what having undocumented parents meant. It wasn’t until my dad lost his job in 2009, that I finally realized my life was different. Disregarding the occasional jobs he’d get in the corners of Home Depot or local liquors for 20 bucks a day, my dad was jobless in 2009 for nine months. We grew hopeless, so he had no other option, but to leave his family and go to Bakersfield to pick strawberries in over 100 degree weather. Needless to say, this was just one of the many tumultuous battles we faced as a family.
My parents have been in the states for more than 25 years and are still currently in “the process”. Truth be told, it is not easy to “become legal.” It is not something that happens overnight. Because of my parents undocumented status, I got a job as soon as I turned 16 to financially support myself. Because of my parent’s undocumented status, during the recession in 2009, mi papi was forced to work for abysmal paychecks during the summers in the fields picking strawberries to support his familia. Because of my parent’s undocumented status, my dad has been jobless for up to nine months. Because of my parent’s undocumented status, my mom has had no other option, but to clean the homes of folk that want her out of this country. Because of my parent’s undocumented status, I must always stay alert for la migra.
Their perseverance has molded me into the human being I am today. It is because of the blood, sweat and tears they shed that I speak on behalf of the voiceless, the marginalized, the oppressed. It is because of their undocumented status that I am a first-generation college student. It is because of their status that I currently maintain a 3.5 GPA at California State University Northridge. It is because of their status that I have become an activist and an advocate for the undocumented community. Because of my parents, I am a chingona.
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