The 7 annoying types of undocumented people and the politics of being undocumented

Being undocumented means being a lot of things. And this list really does not encompass them all, good and bad. Many are acknowledged already but these, I hope, offer new perspectives on old digs.

Undocumented party loyalist somehow didn't make the cut

Now, I am not about bashing others to feel better about myself. I know the details of these categories because I fall right into them myself. With that in mind we start with….

7. The online activist

Let’s be honest here: the internet has changed the way we do things. And it’s utility in social movements cannot go ignored.

But even I’m guilty here. I do not do much because I do not know what I can do, sometimes. I have no money to give. And I don’t have the resources to risk deportation. Sometimes, you have to be desperate enough to do something meaningful, but none of us are there yet. So, we spend our time doing what we can behind the brightly lit screen of our computers, smart phones and laptops. The power of sharing is huge. Sharing a petition. Sharing an article. Sharing a news story about an action by the undocumented has been unimaginably empowering. We hold a lot of power behind our fingertips, collectively.


The problem really isn’t our actions; it’s what we think of it. We’re not activists. I’m more than happy to be a simple peg in the system, if the system we’re talking about is helping spread the word and signing petitions. But I’m not going to think I’ve done enough with just that. And I’m not going to STOP sharing and signing just because I might not single-handedly be responsible for the outcome, but I am aware that it does not qualify me as “active” in the movement. I’ll have to do more.

6. The civil rights leader

During his time, MLK was a controversial figure, and his status as an unquestionably benevolent historical figure is a part of a combination of repackaged history of his legacy by modern observers and his untimely passing creating martyrdom. The man had a way with words though. Yet, who will be seen in our times as the next great social mover is unknown because their current perception is perhaps complicated and not unanimously positive.

Probably not this guy

Unfortunately, we’re not the next Civil Rights movement. Not yet, anyways. One swift pen stroke by the Prez means the need for our movement dies and along with it, all the qualities that push our pursuit of knowledge (that we posses out of desperation and a need to understand why we are where we are in our lives) vanishes. There is no eternal lingering struggle. If you are born black, you will always be black (obvious joke here) but there is no marking you as an undocumented person for life. So, following the beaten path is setting our expectations in the wrong places. It’s not that we shouldn’t learn from it, after all King took from Gandhi’s lessons, but our path needs to be unique and genuine because it is unique when it is genuine. If we struggle as much as we claim and our desperation runs deep enough, then creating friction should come naturally; not propped up through false comparisons and expectations.

That being said, it seems that everyone is writing a book. Everyone is starting a group. Everyone is the future leader of the New World. I don’t mind it, I love seeing so many new angles and directions and a market of ideas at work. But suspicious minds can be lead to believe that not all intentions are pure with these groups or projects at times. I guess it’s human nature or a product of our culture. Just keep in mind that some well-liked people are real jerks in person, others aren’t as committed as they seem and still the scent of superficiality lingers in our community of youth organizers. There are unsavory people propped up by an unsavory population at times. Yet there are also many really really genuine people out there leading the way and for them I am grateful. Self-confidence and self-importance are too different things. Both dabble with your perception of reality, but only one can help you achieve great things.

The extent of my participation

5. The Republican kiss ass

The path to real change is through the government, through Congress. We’ve got a Democrat in the White House! But none of that matters because we still have to please juuust enough Republicans to get it by first. This is politics, after all. This is government. This is how it works.

So no, you’re not illegal, you’re undocumented. Actually no, you are DREAMers. And DREAMers don’t drink. They don’t smoke cause they get high on grades. You’re not allowed to be human because you are a DREAMer and DREAMers are not humans.

Pictured: DREAMers

That’s why we’re desperate for anything to pass. From forgetting CIR because we can’t even pass the DREAM Act to splitting the latter into two different bills. To making the guidelines more and more strict, excluding more and more people so Middle America can sleep at night knowing “My Congressman only let the illegals who are more qualified than me at my job stay,” and even then, not even as citizens. And we’ll take it, because we can, because we’re not the hero you need right now, but we are the hero Gotham deserves. Because we are the Batman. Wait, no it’s because being able to work and drive in the short term is more dire than representation or long term safety or recognition. It’s not like voting even matters anymore, right? Not separate but unequal. Sometimes, I think we collectively sound like a broke cocaine addict. And it’s unfortunate because we’re offering blow jobs for crack to the same assholes who put us in the street in the first place.

But really no matter how much you Rubio the DREAM Act, it will always be translated as AMNESTY…no, not “amnesty” because “amnesty” is actually a good word. It means mercy. No, they will translate it as “REWARDING BREAKING THE LAW” and still vote any Republican who votes for it out of office. And if they don’t, you can believe it’s probably bad news for us.

They can be frugal with their empathy because they think we need them…but maybe not.


4. The ally-basher

Now, I’m not saying there aren’t many many allies with some major flaws out there. What I’m talking about is the general way people seem to communicate their message about allies as a whole, in which they take an all encompassing tone. I’m sure many of them feel unfairly grouped right now in this paragraph because the way they act is justified in their minds versus the groups they’ve seen act unjustified on the matter.

I’m not saying people should not be criticized when they do wrong. What I just don’t get is why we would exclude anyone. Because sometimes I don’t know why anyone would care about our struggle if they don’t feel apart of it, if they don’t feel directly involved somehow. Maybe it’s cynical to think people don’t care if they don’t feel it themselves, but it’s not just that. It stems from the idea that people in this country, the ones we want as allies, are allies because they struggle TOO. It’s why the LGBQT movement is so intertwined with the undocumented movement: many know what it is to struggle. And people should know that their struggle is our struggle and that if one person is unjustly treated then we are all unjustly treated. We are ONLY ONLY ONLY powerful as a group and if self-interest becomes the norm, then we will fall apart. And when those that stray need help, the group they could have had fell apart as they left. We don’t want to be second class citizens yet we treat allies as second class activists?

This guy knows what I'm talking about.

Truth is, being legal doesn’t solve all of life’s problems. Financially, personally nor mentally. All voices should be heard, opinions should be seen through the lens of an objective viewer, not based on merit-less presumptions on who suffers more.

3. The Holier than thou

I will be the first to call someone a “dumbass,” “idiot” and “retard*” when debating with them (especially online and especially if they don’t know where I live or who I am and especially if they’re smaller than me.)

Internet debates

But I’ll usually realize that people sometimes think the way they do based on what they know and what they’ve experienced. Being self-aware about this can help someone catch their flaws (even right now I am afraid to write this entire entry because I’ve been guilty of fallacious thinking processes and I’m sure I will be guilty here as well) and being receptive to criticism about mental processes can help one become a stronger thinker. And thinking is important for…everyday living.


Yet, I’ve run across more than my fair share of people who seem to think their opinions based on exclusive knowledge make them “better” than the rest of the group and treat people who sometimes have “wrong” opinions, with insignificance and indifference. Perhaps it’s just my neurotic nature to want to answer every question and pinpoint every flaw and settle every despute. To cover ever point of ignorance with knowledge. Seeing others lack this quality irks me unreasonably. If we’re to make any strides as a group, we should always keep each other informed as much as we can over self interests.

Yes it’s awesome that you put your life at risk for ungrateful people like me and it’s cool that garnered you donations to visit the Capital and rub elbows with Congressional aides who gossiped about their bosses with you. I’m sorry I couldn’t make it, I was too busy being undocumented and afraid. I didn’t know you could be arrested and not be deported. I was told the opposite my entire life. So, I don’t think I’m cowardly, I just didn’t know there was a safeguard the way you know. Be a bro and tell me about it rather than be angry at me for not knowing next time.

2. The misguided ally

I know I said “undocumented” people but allies are “documented DREAMers” amirite???? Nevermind. Ignore the contradiction. Allies can range from peers to mentors. From loved ones immediately affected by our status to supporters looking for a cause. I can’t say why anyone should join our issue over the starvation and militarism of children, lack of water, financial instabilities and government corruption around the world, but I can tell you that if you’re looking to join this movement to to legitimize your place in this world by way of adoration because you’re helping us even though you don’t have to and you think that creates some sort of bubble around you, you’re in the wrong place. This is no place for here comes the white man to save the day, take that shit to KONY2012. However, if you share the movement with us, if you understand our plight is your plight that there is a connection between our issue and the last two issues I mentioned earlier in this paragraph then your involvement will naturally be seamless, as it has been with many who have not lost themselves and their personal identities. Who have instead shared laughter and offered help and refrained advice when none would console us and instead shared a moment with us in times of grief and found, not made, their struggle in our struggle.

1. The inactive ones

This one is me in a big fat way. I’m not Latino, I can get away with not being thought of as undocumented and I have for 9 years of the “movement.” Not until I finished college and avoided realizing my undocumentedness for as long as possible. For this reason, I can call myself a coward. For never pursuing, for never wondering and instead desperately seeking normality, civility and tranquility in a time of war and death around me. Desperation is not a good reason to get involved. Your resolve is questionable. Your motivations tainted. It is for those with the foresight to see, where to this point even middle and high schoolers have gotten involved, that this shit affects everybody. Their families are also targets. Their livelihoods. Their friends. And all of a sudden, everything matters.


*I’m trying to cut out using “retard” in a derogatory way but I’m quoting it here because I’ve used it in the past (and also to sneak it into this post.)


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4 Responses to “The 7 annoying types of undocumented people and the politics of being undocumented”
  1. Why WOuld says:

    Seems awfully useless. Especially if you are undocumented.

  2. Alex says:

    Wow! I can say I’m the last one, and the first one as well. I was able to “live” with the whole situation up until high school (because I always knew since day 1). Then by high school it hit me. I really just got through it, and now I’m in community college. Still a coward only not as much as before. I am now able to tell complete strangers of my situation but only when I really have to (for volunteer reasons). I hate it, I don’t feel like telling or explaining to anyone anything because I feel it’s none of their business and yes I use to think they might not take me as seriously. Yea I know it’s wrong to think that but I’ve slowly learned to stop thinking like that or else I won’t get anywhere. I’m trying really hard to no longer be afraid. And I want to be active, not to end being a #3, but because I spend so much time helping other people I think it’s time I start helping myself and my family because honestly I’m tired of this nonsense. I want to be able to walk in anywhere without having to feel embarrased when I’m asked for my ID, without having to feel like a complete “stranger” in a place where I’ve lived most of my life.

    Being undocumented has at least one benefit though I have a better understanding of how politics/government works than many of my peers. And I have learned to tolerate others because everyone has their own struggle/ problem. And we all deserve respect no matter where we come from.

  3. well. I consider myself the last one and I am completely lost with the movements . I do not consider smart compare with the other dreamers. I can here when I was grown enough the different and coming here was not the only way .I chose to be undocumented I did not any better. I am here with some relatives so I cannot say my parents brought me here. I can here because I want to be a better person get an education , learn another language , explore what is to feel being a foreign. I never consider myself American .I am Mexican. I always knew who I was. If I learn the language is because I have a certain passion for learning I always saw myself being bilingual.

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