I have been reflecting on my formation—since I came to the US at the age of three—to now as a college-educated undocumented immigrant continuing to live in the US. The hardest part about growing up was figuring out who I was and what I wanted to do.
Being undocumented meant that I had to learn how to watch out for myself. I was always defensive and private and never let anyone see me show any sense of emotion or vulnerability. I lived a lie growing up because it was my only form of protection.
I hid the fact that I was born in a different country and I greeted racist jokes with laughs to cover suspicions of my status here in the US. I wish I would have known how to react or intervene but it was hard when you were so different from everyone else.
It was hard when I knew the only way to succeed was to lie, omit, and pretend that everything was fine on the outside.
Deep down, the words and prejudiced remarks hurt deep. When we tried having advanced conversations on race and justice and I always held my tongue. I held my tongue to avoid backlash. I betrayed myself and my heritage. I wish I hadn’t.Break forth and destroy the good immigrant versus bad immigrant rhetoric.
For those involved with immigration policy, don’t use immigrant youth like bargaining chips if you don’t want to become responsible for your actions later. Joseph was sold into slavery so that the shame of not accepting true intentions would be placed on others.
For undocumented immigrant youth, do not forget those who came before you. Do not betray our elders by excluding them from conversations that only benefit the youth. We should not pin ourselves against each other if we are to fight in the common struggle.
I would rather be undocumented than endure the pain and guilt of living under legal protections that exclude, degrade, and demean immigrants of color.
I would rather live an undocumented life than to hold a legal status while others are mistreated and their families split apart.
Today’s readings teach us that we must not reject the future cornerstones of our lives. In doing work through Christ we can break forth and candidly dedicate ourselves to the mission of God and live as contemplatives in action.
- How does our free will affect the choices we make on actions we are ultimately responsible for?
- In what ways do we reject God?
- In what ways do we try and deceive God by hiding our true intentions?
- Why do we betray ourselves by sacrificing others in order to safeguard our own interests?
Carlos Rodriguez is a graduate of Seattle University where he earned a B.A. in Public Affairs. As the former Student Body President, he has used his position to talk about issues related to immigration, affordable housing, and homelessness. He has been vocal about his status as an Undocumented immigrant in hopes of bringing awareness to the complexity of immigration in the United States. Carlos is known for wearing a scarlet “U” signifying how an Undocumented status, which has been largely stigmatized in the U.S., is branded onto the lives of many Undocumented immigrants. Currently, he is a Jesuit Volunteer serving as an Anti-Trafficking and Immigration Specialist.