Sunday, May 19, 2013

On Being DACAMENTED

To be or not to be, that is the question: Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them: to die, to sleep no more; and by a sleep, to say we end heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to?….

To say that this is an interesting transition is an understatement. For the last couple of months, I’ve seen others enthusiastically share pictures and updates as they got approved for work permits, ID’s and driver’s licenses. I’m no stranger to over sharing myself, and had I been in this situation a few years ago, I would have done the same thing. It’s a major transition for anyone that goes through it. Going from undocumented to being quasi-documented.

I would joke with friends about having a work permit party once I was approved, because the idea of throwing a party to acknowledge this transition is hilarious to me. Like throwing a pet a birthday party. But there’s no fan fare here. No facebook post, instagram picture (sort of) or semi-emotional status update in which I make a hollow vow to continue fighting for others and/or my family so they can have the same opportunities I have.

No, no, no… none of that here. Fact is, it’s not that big of a deal to me. For far too long, my immigration status in this country consumed everything about my life that it strangled and suffocated me. Everything wrong in my life, everything I didn’t have access to, having fear of authority figures instilled in me, not having girlfriends, it was because I was undocumented. Its taken me a long time to be able to get out of that mind set. And in some ways, I won’t ever be.

Legal status or not, I’ve made my way through life and figured out what works for me. Having a work permit isn’t going to cause an existential dilemma within me as more as a simple pondering of what side of the fence I’m on now. What can I or can’t claim from here on out. To be undocumented or not to be undocumented, that is the question. More than anything, I feel that something is being taken away from me.

An identity that has been crafted for the last 21 years on the fact that I was undocumented. As a good friend succinctly put once, I’ll be going from being undocumented and unafraid, to documented and scared. But there's also the feeling of submissiveness. The fact that I had to jump through all these hoops, front some cash and wait so government can validate me and say that it's ok for me to be in the system now.

I never craved or asked for acceptance for the kind of life that I've lived. It was because of those experiences that I learned to be independent of the need of social acceptance to validate what I do. I've heard countless stories of other undocumented immigrants/dreamers who literally need the acceptance of society, to be like their friends and do what they do. And the fact that they don't have that literally hurts them. My world didn't fall apart when I turned 16 and realized I couldn't get a drivers licence like all of my friends. Or applying to colleges, only to be told that there is no help for you because of your immigration status.  

While my personal experience is one that's dramatically different from the dreamer stereotype, it doesn't make it that much more important or insignificant that anyone else's. It is what it is, different. Inherently, my experience transitioning immigration status is also different, but not better or worse than anyone else. For the last 21 years, I've learned to do things differently than others. To be unorthodox in the way I go to school, how I work, how I live and how I think.

For the next two years, I will have the ultimate privilege of being a quasi-legal resident of the United States because of Deferred Action. Things are going to get easier and my life will improve. I will have temporary access that what I haven't. Some of it will help me grow as an individual and some will hold me back. But at the end of the day, when I'm alone with my thoughts and a cold beer, nothing will have changed. I know who I am and a work permit or citizenship isn't going to change that. It'll just give me better tools to create and destroy.






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