The undocububble and 4 reasons why legal status doesn’t fix everything
Dreamers Adrift > Undocublog
Two years ago, I didn’t really know what it was like to have a community to deal with my undocumented status. Now, probably like many of us, I forget what it was like outside of being undocumented. Even worse, I forget what it was like being undocumented and afraid. Not that I am still completely unafraid and not that it’s a bad thing to forget the torments of my undocuteens. But I do realize that back then I had an appreciation for day to day living that I’ve since, sort of, excused myself from considering because of my undocumented status.
The ally perspective. As undocumented youth empower themselves, allies have a minor plight against those they support.
Their plight is that some of us seem to embrace this idea that being a legal resident or citizen fixes all the obstacles on the path to success in this world. Even I’m guilty of this, I remember seeing homeless people and feeling some combination of angst and guilt, thinking “if we can survive as undocumented people, how is it that this citizen is homeless?”
Should we care? Our allies don’t need a hero to come in and save their day, right? Well, this isn’t a defense of allies as much as it is a wake up call to realize our own privileges outside of our undocububble.
4. Your relationships matter
Do you ever realize that there are citizens in this country who actually have it worse than undocumented people? And I’m not just talking about the extremely unfortunate, I’m talking about everyday legal folk.
Sometimes, being undocumented means forgetting the good things we do have. Like a family that supports us. Connections, charm, a good neighbor or two. There are situations that far greatly can affect a person’s life over their undocumented status.
DO NOT GET ME WRONG: you’d be hard pressed to find a US citizen who worked hard their whole lives and now has to wash dishes just to get by. There are undocumented people without supportive families as well. And on any even playing field, an undocumented person is inherently less privileged. But let’s no longer ignore that the playing field is not always even.
Debt is a major problem in this country. Sometimes because even to take two steps forward, you have to take one step back in the form of debt. Money is like electricity, it is amoral. It can be used for good or evil. It is a quantification of our labor in a social market of exchange. So green cards and citizenship don’t wipe away debt, nor does it bail you out. Even in the supposed “welfare state,” it is really hard to get by and welfare doesn’t wipe out debt either. Perhaps the lack of a safety net means undocumented people are more willingly to do harder jobs. And it’s not just because we’re immigrants: it could be that a lack of a social safety net just forces us to survive by any means necessary. This is not an attack on social safety nets either, as I believe they have a positive effect overall on society. For undocumented folks, though, it’s a non-factor.
What I’ve also realized is that the more money I make, the more expenses I tend to take up. Better paying jobs means more shit you need to access the better jobs (car, more gas, parking, work appropriate clothing etc) The money problem never truly goes away unless you’re fortunate enough and work hard enough to settle into a career.
2. Not every undocumented person is your friend
This one has two meanings. One is that, just because you meet someone who is undocumented, does not mean you will naturally become besties. No amount of shared stories of difficulties faced when trying to enter bars or afford college will mean personalities will mesh.
Secondly, we have to acknowledge that being undocumented and unafraid apparently does not keep you from being spineless or shady. There are people out there who will take advantage of you on both sides and open discussions can sometimes be hard to come by on these matters.
So if you were to become a legal resident, there will be no shortage of spineless, shameless people looking to take advantage of folks. It’s a product of human nature, I guess and probably exists in most societies. This may sound bleak and pessimistic, but the point is that everyone has to deal with shady people.
1. We are a symptom of a bigger problem
What do you say about a country in which the majority acknowledges us as an entity with a necessity to change certain policies that do not reflect the sentiments of the majority, but still fails to do anything about it?
Make no mistake, our problems don’t end at Comprehensive Immigration Reform: that’s when our problems begin. If we care to stay in this country as much as we claim, then we care about the welfare of this country and it currently stinks.
This may seem like an exaggeration or a “doomsday” fear mongering device, but it’s really just acknowledging how shitty our political system is. It probably starts with education, which is the open wound. Then money issues (see: debt) really keeps people from focusing on political matters and further inhibits the access to education. Then you’ve got a capitalist media that further convolutes the issues, possibly intermingling with the politicians who are supposed to be enacting laws to protect and serve the people of this land.
So really, we cannot be a single issue group, us undocumented non-voters who need our allies to support us at the polls. Should an ally be more involved than that? Well, that’s an issue for debate. Though would we want the same for ourselves when we become allies?
Minhaz is the creator of Undocublog. He likes to write nonsensical bullshit and watch sappy movies. He also likes to gamble.