J.Valas

By José Torres-Don

Last Thursday’s vigil was an opportunity for all of us to reflect on our current situation in North Carolina as an immigrant community. The vigil was held at the same place where just a year before three young women declared a hunger strike challenging all of us to believe and push for our dreams. At the time, they demanded for Senator Hagan to hear their frustration. Needless to say, the Senator did not measure up to the trust and confidence placed in her. However, this time around we came together in support of the seven undocumented youth, two from the NC DREAM Team, who last Tuesday intentionally risked deportation in Atlanta, Georgia through a civil disobedience action. The seven youth demanded that Georgia State University President refuse the ban on undocumented students attending the university. This was the first direct action by undocumented youth since the DREAM Act failed to pass in the Senate. It was an important one–since then our immigrant communities have been under attack at the local level, where we feel it the most, and the only support we hear from a supposedly immigrant-friendly administration is an irresponsible and faint commitment to not deport us.


J. Valas

More than anything, the vigil was a celebration of the undocumented youth empowerment felt throughout the state. We all felt the risk of the action taken, but as we stood there united, we understood clearly the greater risk in maintaining the status quo. We were all reminded that in North Carolina, our urgency is such that our own friends are willing to risk it all in order to give us all our voice back and to not be afraid to stand up and speak our own truth. We reflected on their strength to look fear in the eye and push and lead us to understand our own power. We felt it. We understood our cause at its very core. We welcomed our responsibility to keep pushing ahead for undocumented youth and our parents so that we heal through self-empowerment. This was especially felt when Jose Rico’s family spoke up about their support for him and how proud they were about his leadership and courage.

That night, we renewed our commitment to this fight that at times seems endless but worth it because our dignity and humanity are priorities. To say the least, the courage of the seven undocumented youth is inspiring and the empowerment liberating. Through them we were are all able to scream and now shoulder to shoulder we free ourselves from whatever fear we may have because nothing is more contagious than courage.

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