Speak Up, Speak Out for Immigrant Rights
I never considered myself an activist until I joined Connecticut Students for a Dream, a statewide youth led organization that works to advocate and empower undocumented students and their families. It was then that I realized my power and the power of stories. It was then that I realized that by staying silent about my immigrant mother’s struggles and how her undocumented status was affecting not only her but me as well, I was not honoring her truth. Or my truth.
My mother is one of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. She fights every day with this country, the same one that needs her here because of her cheap labor but threatens to kick her out. Through her experiences I was able to see what it means to be an immigrant woman of color.
With CT Students for a Dream I found myself opening up this wound I had so long covered up but never fully healed. With C4D I have also realized the importance of community action, of unity, and of visibility of our movement. I along with fellow members of C4D Amber Domond, and Renato Calle organized an Immigrant Rights Speak Up Speak Out even at Eastern CT State University’s campus. The purpose of the Speak Out was to raise awareness on the obstacles set in place for immigrant students and families. So much hate has been spewed from the media and politicians such as the infamous Donald Trump that immigrants were being dehumanized. This event allowed for us to reclaim this narrative and present and honor the true spirit and resiliency of the immigrant community. Leaders from C4D (CT Students for a Dream), CIRA (CT Immigrant Rights Alliance), and UNA (United Action Connecticut), and LPRAC (Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission) spoke on what Connecticut has been doing and can do in the future as well as provide resources to the public for those looking to become involved in the movement.
When talking about immigrant rights, it is also vital to remember that they are unquestionably inherent to reproductive justice; policies and laws have a direct impact on the lives and reproductive health of immigrant women. Reproductive health care might be accessible for some, but the constant fear of deportation, shame and discrimination can deter immigrants from seeking the health care services they need. However, all people should have access to quality, affordable health care — regardless of income, citizenship or insurance status.
As a Generation Action intern with Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, a member of C4D, and a student ambassador at the Women’s Center on Eastern’s campus I acknowledge the power of student activism and I fully embrace it now. This work is about shedding light on multiple overlapping communities and issues such as the millions of undocumented people who don’t have access to affordable health insurance. People are being denied basic human rights and what are we going to do about it?
We need to continue to use our voices to fight for the rights of our communities and our families; we need to continue to make noise on campus bringing visibility to reproductive rights, immigrant rights, voter rights and so on. Unity is our strength. Solidarity is our power. I come from a long line of resistance and fighters, I will never forget that and I will always honor it.
By advocating for the rights, dignity, and humanity for those who deserve to have freedom and respect regardless of immigration status I am carrying the dreams of mi mami. Like the monarch butterfly, humanity transcends all borders. It knows no limits and no borders but knows survival. To move is natural. It is to survive and thrive. Our movement is constant; our route is ever changing.