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What does it mean to be unafraid? To be undeniable? To be undocumented? Being unafraid as an undocumented individual may seem easy to imagine. Yet, living with the constant fear of being sent back to a country you fled in fear is gut-wrenching. 

My immigrant story

I was fortunate enough to have been born in the United States. My mother came to this country at 23 years old, all alone and in fear of being raped or killed at the Mexico-U.S. border. The intense government regime of her home country of Nicaragua, paired with the lack of hope for its citizens, scarred her. She made the immense sacrifice to leave her country in search of a better life.

I never fully appreciated or understood that sacrifice. By the time I was born, she had papers and had lived in the U.S. for 15 years. I can never comprehend the feeling of watching your parents live in fear, in being scared to come home one day and see them gone. These are experiences I am fortunate enough to have been saved from.

Immigration for me has been a blessing. Had it not been for both my parents migrating to this country, I would not have been born. Immigration runs through my veins. On my mother’s side, my great-grandfather migrated from China to Nicaragua and met my great-grandmother. On my father’s side, both of my grandparents migrated from Spain to Cuba. This group of distant sacrifices from my own life today continue to steer my passion ablaze for the present immigrant community. 

Understanding privilege

With so much gratitude, I had the opportunity to attend an event hosted by United We Dream Action to travel to Washington D.C. and demand that politicians help the immigrant community through the passage of the Citizenship For All campaign, a fight to help undocumented immigrants regardless of their pasts. In this experience, I practiced listening. I listened to participant stories, understanding through their silent tears how massive of an impact this policy had on them. Realizing the immigrant horrors that continue in this country, I found that the American Dream I’ve helped perpetuate is, in fact, a nightmare for so many. 

I was fortunate enough to have a positive immigrant experience, but so many people have not had the same blessing. As the daughter of immigrants, it is my duty to work and help others who are not being helped by the government. 

What is an immigrant? 

Oftentimes, our idea of who wears the label of an immigrant in the U.S. is restricted to Hispanic or Latinx immigrants. During my experience in Washington, I was fortunate enough to meet other immigrants from across the globe, particularly Asian countries. Witnessing the diversity of people who came to this country like my family made me realize the magnitude of the people involved. Citizenship For All was not only helping my own ethnic community, but a bigger and broader immigrant community. 

The monarch butterfly

The monarch butterfly, which is used as a symbol of the migration of millions of immigrants, travels thousands of miles throughout its life. This butterfly symbolizes the resilience and beauty of immigration, showing that living beings have the right to move freely. It shines the light on the opportunities immigrants create and the path of citizenship that they deserve. 

What can YOU do?

United We Dream Action continues to fight on in Washington, which means that we have a long and hard road ahead of us. I encourage you to reach out to your elected officials and demand action. Educate yourself, even if you have no relation to immigration. Chances are you know at least one person whose family line only recently started in the U.S. Listen to those around you who have experienced these issues. It is important that we all learn about the issues going on in our country regarding the heinous acts committed against immigrants of all races. Hopefully, in time, we can make a difference and ensure citizenship for all. Besides, the U.S. is a nation of immigrants, right?

Alejandra is a fourth-year journalism and education sciences double major at the University of Florida. A self-described grammar and writing nerd, she loves reading and editing the work of others and helping them in their writing process. She's also extremely passionate about climate issues and human rights. When she's not editing for HC UFL or doing school work, you can almost always find her trying a new recipe, working out, watching a movie, or reading!