The Legalities of Being

written by Yosimar Reyes

My grandmother has never used the word “undocumented” to describe her existence. In fact growing up she never taught me about limitations. Most of the folks on my block share this similar experience so there was no dialogue around our status in this country. We all knew where to get fake micas or any other documents needed to work in this country. I never felt alone or depress. In high school most of my peers were and continue to be undocumented so conversations around our status were not important because there was a common understanding that this was simply a REALITY and not our identity. We were more then the lack of a social security number.

I am beginning a conversation with myself about defining my being by laws that really can NEVER summarize my existence. I am thinking about integration and this going trend to be called AMERICAN. I am thinking about words like DREAMer and Illegal, language that is stagnant, that in no way, shape or form speaks truth about the complexities of being and the connections that we have as humans beyond borders and political systems. It is like defining your being by building fences. Telling folks this is me, read the sign.

I know the importance of visibility and empowering folks to no longer feel ashamed or embarrassed by their status but as a person who was taught that “El Pajaro Donde Quiera Es Verde” I am begging to question these myths I have learned about my homeland. I am begging to address this fear that I have about one day potentially returning to that place that gave birth to me. Why is that every time I think about my HOME my heart stops at the idea of living in poverty, when in reality I have been living below the poverty line my whole life. There is a social construction in my head that “AMERICA” is better. That “AMERICA” will grant me freedom. That “AMERICA” will grant me a proper education. That “AMERICA” is a place of justice.

When the REALITY is that I have never seen the fruit of all these promises. We are still at the same place since we arrived, under attack, caged, profiled and subjugated to unjust laws. I am thinking about how damaging it is to label my spirit, my essence UNDOCUMENTED, taking something so minimal from the physical world and have it manifest in my body.

Right now there is confusion all around me. There is a national campaign to pass the Dream Act, Obama announced his Deffered Action, folks are constantly inviting me to speak about my experience and I cannot help but feel Bamboozled. There is trend of folks writing about us, documenting us, wanting to hear us, wanting for us to come out of the shadows, wanting to us to feel empowered and for some reason I can not seem to get pass the fact that we are still not addressing our emotional well being, not as undocumented people but as migrants, displaced people, folks whose hearts have been broken by America’s lies.

Abulita has a broken heart
Ella no tiene la lengua para explicarle al presidente de sus milpas de café
She is not a DREAMer
There is no Deffered action for her
No immigration reform for her

One day she will pack her bags
Purchase a plane ticket and return home

She will look at the streets
Try to remember how things used to be
But time has not stopped since left
Her comadres have passed
Su casita fell

She will look at the dirt
Try to remember where she gave birth to her first-born

Look at the face of a son she has not seen in decades
She will be weak
Spending her days remembering

Abuelita will slowly dig her grave
Crawl back into the land that brought her to this journey
Return to the center
And migrate to the spirit world

There she will no longer need papers
no longer be poor
no longer ache
no longer be broken hearted

There she will whisper to me
And remind me that all this is a dream
That one day we will wake up to a place more beautiful then this.


Jesus and Yosimar during recording session. Photo by Julio.

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