Undocumented Immigrants Speak Out: “No Papers No Fear” Caravan Visits New Mexico!

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New Mexicans react to No Papers No Fear ride for justice, August 3, 2012:

By ~ Published on August 10, 2012 by

The “No Papers, No Fear” caravan—also known as “Undocubus”—is currently winding its way to the National Democratic Convention in North Carolina on Sept 3. 2012. The caravan is the inspiration of undocumented youth who, fed up with immigration being a ‘political football’ in U.S. politics, have decided to go public with their immigration status in a full-blown protest. But, while daring and provocative, it’s also risky for young people potentially subject to deportation. [The caravan visited Albuquerque, NM on Friday, August 3, 2012.]

The organizers of the UndocuBus state on their website that the Department of Homeland Security as well as both political parties are at fault for a broken immigration system that leaves millions of immigrants in a state of limbo:

Every year the Department of Homeland Security removes 400,000 from the United States. Over the last four years President Obama has deported over 1 million people. There is a rise of collaboration between local police and immigration agents through programs like Secure Communities. Meanwhile, both parties have turned the lives and suffering of undocumented immigrants into political football, passing the responsibilities to each other.

When the caravan stopped in Albuquerque last week, the frustration among the participants was clear. The riders of the Undocubus ranged from parents with children, to queer youth, all willing to show their faces in public at the risk of being arrested for their actions.

Julio Cesar Sanchez, a queer, undocumented rider from Chicago shared with EL Grito the daily fear and anxiety that comes with being undocumented:

The caravan follows a trail from Phoenix, Arizona, birth place of SB1070, the controversial law that many credit with energizing the campaign for immigrant rights across the country.

New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee are some of the states that have seen or will see the bus pass through their territories.  Some of these states have passed or have tried to pass some of the most restrictive immigration laws in the country.

“History has shown that your risk of being deported is bigger if you remain in the shadows,” said Tania Unzueta, an immigrant organizer on the bus. “We are asking people to come out of the shadows and join our movement.”

Unzueta described to El Grito how she was tired of lying about her status, about not speaking up when undocumented immigrants were referred to in conversation as “they”.  In her own words:

Coming out of the shadows has its risks

Not all undocumented immigrants are comfortable with coming out of the shadows. Miguel Angel C, an undocumented student at UNM who came out to the Albuquerque stop, has mixed feelings about letting the world know that he has been in the country without documents since he was 8 years old.

“I get why they are doing it but I don’t know if I’m confortable letting the world know about an aspect that is so private and personal in my life,” he told El Grito.

Megan Jordi, attorney with the NM Mexico Immigrant Law Center, says that declaring your legal status in the country is a risky decision, with potentially dire consequences for undocumented immigrants and their families.  Jordi shared with El Grito some aspects to consider for undocumented individuals in this country. There are sometimes, she warned, that immigration attorneys won’t be able to prevent deportation.

Fernando Lopez, a young indigenous migrant of Mexican descent who is riding with the Undocubus caravan, wrote about his experience visiting New Mexico and learning about the prevalence of indigenous roots in Albuquerque. “We leave New Mexico with a strong learning experience and with the opportunity of bringing awareness to the indigenous communities and a better understanding of our struggles that regardless of what side of the border we were born we still connected by our struggles, traditions, languages and our beautiful indigenous roots,” he writes.

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