Undocumented immigrants are not the only ones who need to stand up and take action. For the rest of us, friends, lovers, classmates–we need to stand ready at the side of those we love. With that in mind, here’s Valentina’s story.

“My name is Valentina Pavone, I am Fredd Reyes‘ proud girlfriend of 5 years now. He is the most amazing person I know and have ever known. I’ve always known that Fredd was undocumented–I just never knew what it could really mean for us and how much they could take away.

September 25th,2010 is a date that I will never forget. I received a phone call: “They took Fredd”.

At first I wanted to pretend I didn’t know what this meant, but I knew it very well–Fredd and I had discussed this before. He got caught, I wanted so much to believe it was a dream. I remember waking up at 6am the next day crying hysterically. I tried to call Fredd to tell him I had a terrible dream but his phone was off. That’s when I felt it–this was really happening.

I couldn’t eat for days. It took a while to figure out the phone system–then, finally, I could hear his voice. I didn’t hear what I wanted to hear; he was going to be transferred to a detention center in Georgia where he would probably be deported from. The timing was uncertain, I kept strong for him–I had to, because I knew no matter what happened, they couldn’t tear us apart. We made a plan and we knew we would be back together again.

I went to visit him every Sunday. Five hours there, five hours back, but I would only get one hour and we had a glass between us. I couldn’t even hold his hand. It was awful; I cried every time I left. I knew he didn’t deserve that–none of it–they were tearing him apart. For what? For wanting a better life? For wanting an education? For wanting the so called “American dream”?

Weeks went by before I knew it. Fredd was going on two months of being detained. He was set to be deported to Guatemala, but then some angels came along. All of you–because of you–November 24th became the best day of my life! I got a phone call: “baby I’m coming home, I’m free!” I will never be able to repay anyone back for what they did because it would never be enough, but I promise all of you that I will stand by you! When Fredd was locked up, I was looking for support, answers. I didn’t think I could be the only one going through this–I wanted to see if others shared their story. I came across way more than I wanted. So many people like me where suffering because of immigration–so many knew what detention centers were. I’d never wish it on anyone. It was the hardest time in my life. Just imagine for a minute having your loved one just taken away from you without being able to do anything. Finding these stories, though, motivated me–they made me realize that nobody needs to be afraid. I didn’t have to go around pretending this was not happening to me. It was time to speak up take a stand.

All we have is our voice. I know it may be scary–and at times, even painful to admit–I can’t even count the many times I have been angry, but being angry and doing nothing will only leave you bitter. That’s why I’m so proud to have a team like the NC DREAM Team. We do something about it. If you want something to change, then you can’t wait around for someone to do it for you. Stand up and do something about it, and that’s exactly what I am doing. I’m going to take action. I’m not going to let them decide what is going to happen. It’s so important for people to take a stand; everyone makes a difference. I will admit that this was probably one of the hardest things I have ever gone through and will ever go through, but it also made me realize that I can’t stay quiet anymore, none of us can. Together we can do anything. I was born in Italy and moved here when I was 10 years old–I’m not undocumented but I’m unafraid and most definitely unashamed to stand up with you all! You deserve the dream, you deserve your rights!!!