“If they come for one of us, they better come for all of us”

A reflection piece by Gloria Campos 

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Since I was a teenager, like many others in my situation, sharing my story has remained a tool to not only organize and call people to act but also a tool to heal and humanize myself and other immigrants in the eyes of a nation built on the rampant exclusion, enslavement, and exploitation of black and non-black people of color. I am undocumented, I came to the US in 1996, at the age of 3, from Lima, Peru during a wave of the worst terrorism Peru had ever seen. I am also a current DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient which essentially puts me at a low-level priority for deportation with the opportunity to apply to a 2-year temporary work permit, with the opportunity to renew, for a fee of about $500.00, every 2 years. This was until now president Trump terminated the program this past month.

I am currently the Youth Organizer for the Roots for Peace program in Los Angeles and have been involved in some form of immigrant rights organizing since 2006. When I was in 7th grade my family and I took part in what was at the time the largest immigrants’ rights march in the history of Los Angeles, we marched in opposition to hateful and anti-immigrant legislation known as HR4437 in California. Leading up to the 2012 announcement on DACA and beyond, I was part of nationwide efforts, led by fierce undocumented immigrant youth who put their bodies on the line and risked deportation, to successfully push then president Obama, during his re-election campaign and beyond, to use executive action to change policy with regards to deportation practices. Back then, DACA was something the president claimed time and time again he did not have the power to carry out. Part of these organizing efforts also included bringing attention to the record number of deportations under the Obama administration in efforts to pressure the president to use his executive oversight to halt deportations in our communities.

DACA was a win for undocumented youth whose stories were being hijacked by political parties (Democrats and Republicans) and mainstream ally and immigrant rights organizations. DACA however also strengthened the divide between “low priority DREAMers” and everyone else, our neighbors, families, and community members, deemed undeserving of basic rights during a time where deportation rates during the Obama administration reached a record high (for more on this history click here). Today, although DACA has provided myself, and many others, relief and a temporary sense of security, the majority of undocumented immigrants in this country, including my parents and close friends, remain without of any form of protection.

Now that DACA is set to terminate officially after March 5th, 2018, I truly believe it is critical that we learn from our past and seek protections and demand rights beyond the limitations placed by a white supremacist government. I recently attended a DACA response community meeting in Los Angeles where I was inspired to see many people, young and old, who were new to organizing spaces and ready and willing to put their bodies on the line to protect the most vulnerable in our communities. As this administration continues to fight with extremist hate we must counter with extremist love and compassion and fight for all 11 million undocumented immigrants. This means fighting with and for those who are most criminalized and deemed “undeserving” by a system of exploitation that continues to profit off the detainment, incarceration, and deportation of our bodies. Beyond DACA and recycled versions of legislation such as the federal DREAM Act which will only further funnel more of our young people into the military. It means being creative, it means pushing boundaries, it means putting our bodies on the line if we feel called to do so, it means showing up for one another knowing if they come for one of us, they better come for all of us.

Finally, if you enjoy spoken word, check out this beautiful piece by Yosimar.