Borders/Fronteras

Pre-Action Reflection

I have lived in San Diego, a California border city, for twenty two years. My geographic proximity to the border might suggest that I had visited the border on multiple occasions, but that is not the case. I migrated to California when I was ten months old, so I don’t have memories of the journey. Throughout my childhood and into my early teens I was subject to the sort of geographic confinement that many people face because of fear, so I never went anywhere that wasn’t predetermined as safe for undocumented people. I was accustomed to hearing about the risk that came with visiting the border. My community warned me about avoiding the border and it’s impending threat to my existence. Everything I understood about the border during my childhood came from movies and the stories I heard about people’s crossing.

As a teen I found myself feeling sort of silly asking people to describe what the border was like, so I decided to launch a personal investigation. It was then that I image searched the US/Mexico border to get my first ever glimpse of the border through online images. It was underwhelming to say the least, just an ugly brownish fense for the most part. When people asked if I had ever seen the border my response was that I had seen online images of it but that I had never see it in person. As an undocumented teen I avoided explaining that I could not go back and forth between the US and Mexico.

In recent years that ugly brownish fense has come to symbolizes the separation of my immediate family and an open wound in my life. Because of that border my sister’s departure to Tijuana four years ago has consequently led to my inability to visit her. In my late teens I was left searching for ways to cope with family separation and figuring out a way to make sense of a senseless border. In the past few years I have been reluctant to visit the border because of the sort of emotions that a border inevitably brings up.

Leading up to my first visit I was simultaneously curious and anxious. Despite the legal protection my DACAmented status now provides me, mentally I am still undocumented and have relapse notions of legal restrictions I once had. On April, 2013 I visited the San Ysidro port of entry for the first time, it was still just an ugly fence. My first visit was surreal, but it was also an unexpected opportunity to confront the border and question why I had let a border and the people who enforce it intimidate me. In the days that followed I thought about how I had internalized fear and about what it had done to my sense of freedom. More importantly I reflected on the notion that as an “undocumented” womyn, living in a border city, I was long overdue for a rejection of that subconscious fear.

This weekend when I visit the border for the second time in my life I’m not sure what other feelings will emerge, but I do know that confronting the physical presence of a border has been a catalyst to my healing. When I physically occupy the space around the border I am in the midst of an open wound, it is there that I begin to heal. I look forward to that healing, knowing that I will be in community.

Post-Action Reflection

We anticipated the Sunday border action with great enthusiasm because immigrant youth had never openly challenged border militarization in such unity. A day before the action we met in Escondido with other CIYJA affiliates to plan the final details. We picked roles, Diana and Nestor joined the media team, while Brenda and Karen took care of the legal hotline, and Alondra and I decided to join the chant team. After a long day of legal training and eventually falling asleep past midnight the energy was high leading into the day of the border action.

The next morning we woke up at 6 am and ate pan dulce at a park in Carlsbad. As we lined up to have the legal hotline phone number written on us with a permanent marker we all reminded each other who the sit-in participants were going to be. We rode on three white vans and headed down with specific instruction to look for the waving of a yellow bandana as signal to move in and take over the space in front of the San Ysidro port of entry. On the car ride over we made calls to help the media outreach efforts and contacted San Diego Dream Team members to inform them that the action was no longer happening at Friendship Park.

Upon arrival we all crammed into the Jack in the Box across from the port of entry to use the restroom and then inconspicuously began walking closer and closer to the border. I had previously agreed to be one of many chant leaders so I prepared to echo chants as we quickly handed each other posters to hold. Our action began with us walking in a circle in front officers as we chanted. The officers showed indifference despite our vast presence and loud chanting. After some time we moved closer to the port of entry and the sit-in participants sat hand in hand in front of the large doors through which people enter into the US. We had planned a sit-in with peaceful protest, all that changed mid-way into the action.

Without notice or request to move, officers began to push the crowd back including the sit-in participants. The sit-in participants were brutally tossed around on the pavement floor without consideration of their bodily harm. After witnessing the brutality we comforted those who were physically harmed con abrazos de encouragement. The crowd became unsettled as we witnessed police brutality in complete disbelief.

That morning we could have never anticipated that we would be met with such unnecessary force, but we were. I had come back to the border looking to confront my own unsettled emotions about this border and in those moments following the action I wasn’t sure I had really settled anything. As we ate tacos after debriefing at Chicano Park it was an unspoken sentiment that the police brutality had given us a new perspective. It had heighten our awareness, deepen our compassion, and strengthen our commitment to end borders, and border enforcement. As for me, well, I look forward to many more border visits, understanding that with each visit I continue to move forward in my healing and empowerment process.

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SD Dream Team UndocuBlog!

Hello, sonador@s, luchador@s, trabajador@s, y mucho mucho maaaas!

Welcome to the birth of the San Diego Dream Team UndocuBlog! We will be sharing all kinds of posts with you on a weekly basis starting right about now. Join us on this journey to connect through blogging and art (in its many definitions)! Make sure to also share us with your friends! Soon we will share more further details on how to submit to our blog. Looking forward to all the powerful expressions that will come out of this project.

With much undoculove,

the blog facilitators (who you can meet below)

Nidya

In 2010, two years after attending UC Santa Cruz and graduating with a major in Feminist Studies  I entered the San Diego State University Marriage and Family Therapy Masters program. The emotional struggles of being undocumented and the difficult experience in overcoming the remains of abusive relationships guided me towards this field. My vision is to build creative spaces that merge therapy, artistic expression, community organizing, and social justice for healing, empowerment, and connection amongst individuals. I want all the latter tools to be accessible to others just like I have been fortunate enough to use them in my life. Every human being deserves the opportunity to feel uplifted in his or her community while resisting oppression. So here I am as one of the facilitators of this blog hoping that it will be a space for everyone to share all forms of expression (poetry, writing, graphic art, paintings, videos, etc) and take take risks sharing our humanity. Let’s resist together through any means 🙂

Lizeth:

Writing is something I am recently getting used to. I never thought myself as a writer. This though has been able to help me heal in a way and allowed me to share my thoughts with everyone.

Growing up in a culture like mine it is very hard to share what you feel with your family. We are taught to hide our tears, our bruises and keep going with our lives. We are taught to be strong ‘luchadores’ and to work hard but sometimes we just need to let it all out.  For so many years I’ve hurt inside just hiding my own struggles and it accumulated to a point where I just exploded.

Now though I have met individuals like me and because of that I have been able to talk, cry, hug and listen to similar stories. I even have the courage to write something so others can read. Therefore my partner and I have decided to have this space for others like us to have the opportunity to write a story or poem, to share a drawing or painting. Just anything that says who you are.

Website!

We are currently working in fully updating all of our sections under our page.

If you have any questions at all, please e-mail us at dreamteamsd@gmail.com

-San Diego Dream Team Social Media Coordinator