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I Found Myself

            For the past 9 years I have been working with the Immigrants Rights’ Movement. I remember clearly my first march at the age of 11, the hot sun and the multitude of people marching behind me. At first it all seemed frivolous to me since I was not aware of the injustices that were taking place against my people. I never truly felt connected to the cause until 2006. It is clear in my mind, I remember walking into the hot concrete of Downtown Houston and looking back and seeing thousands of people marching in my direction. The thrill that I felt of seeing such passion in the faces of those marching in the road will forever be imprinted in my mind. That was when we decided to break that barrier and become active in with the Dream Act. We joined a local Dream Act organization and began working with them for about a year. After a while we decided to form the organization that would define our lives. Familias Inmigrantes y Estudiantes en la Lucha was the name that was chosen by my mother who had always pushed to fight for what we believed in. FIEL was born in late May 2007 and since then we have worked with the student undocumented population in Houston, TX. For the last 4 years, I have been there in the movement but at the same time I haven’t. After the Dream Act did not pass the Senate, I found myself pessimistic, angry and sad. At the start of 2011 I found myself not wanting to continue working with the immigrant community because I felt like I had failed many after the Dream Act campaign. Many students that I had organized during the last Dream Act campaign kept coming to me and asking me, what now? I couldn’t answer that question and for a while I didn’t know how to.

            That all changed on April 8th, 2011. I had heard about the D6 Oklahoma retreat and for a while I didn’t think about even going and if I hadn’t, that would have been one of the greatest mistakes of my life. What I felt in Oklahoma was what I felt during that march back in 2006. I saw people like me who shared the same passion for their people and their future as I did. I saw that I was not alone and that I really hadn’t been doing what I was supposed to be doing for my community and my people, for my friends and family. I saw students who are on the same boat as I am and how they are like me and will not stop until they achieve their goal. Oklahoma changed my life, it made me want to become a better organizer, a better brother, a better activist and a better person. For a while I wondered what my calling is in life. I had always wondered what I was born to do and I realized in Oklahoma that I was born to do this. I was born to fight for the rights of my people and friends; for my family. I saw that I was indeed not alone and that I had the support of not just Texas but of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas & Missouri; a support which has empowered me to do more than what I have done for the past 9 years. Even though I have fixed my status and am technically no longer undocumented, in my heart I will ALWAYS be a Dreamer. I will always fight for the rights of those who can’t. I will always be an ally or a D Dreamer. My heart will always remain undocumented. Why? Because I saw myself in everyone in there, I found myself the weekend spent in Oklahoma. That is why Oklahoma changed me for the better. As long as there is a single breath in my body I will never stop fighting…

© April 2011. A.E.

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