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Leaving for me was not hard. I knew that the act of leaving was not something that was cutting off my ties with this new community I had gotten to know. It did not signify an end to my involvement in the struggle against the militarization of the border or the mediation of the consequences brought by this system. Leaving was more than anything a shift in direction and focus. It was about fully digesting my experience and formulating the next steps.

My personal work around migration issues continues, and this fight will always be a part of me just as my personal immigrant experience is part of my identity. Being one who calls Durham, North Carolina home and who has already invested much in being a part of this community, my hope is to continue working with and for my community. There has been much progress in Durham, but we cannot grow comfortable and must rather be relentless in the push for progressive change. There are many parallels that exist in the positions on immigration North Carolina and Arizona have taken. Border patrol does not roam the streets like it did in Tucson, but I know the fear that comes over any migrant when they see a police car in their rear view mirrors, or when they see flashing lights up ahead. A physical wall does not exist in North Carolina, but many times I would see the 919 or 704 area codes come up on the phone calls about missing migrants and I would realize that it was someone close to home desperately trying to find a family member.

This entanglement with the border is something that must be realized because it is from there that our criminalization emerges. Yes, there is some federal law that was passed and the blame can be placed on those officials who created it but the criminality gets attached after crossing this boundary. Correction, it is an illegal, arbitrary, destructive, and stolen boundary. Politicians talk about the border and wall as something free of any repercussions while knowing nothing about the communities that are being destroyed, the environment that is being ravaged, and the origins as to why migration occurs. If only the solution were to be as simple as “Build A Wall”. It goes so much more beyond that and it is so dangerous and destructive to have someone in power that has no sense of the complexity of the issue and masses of people who refuse to learn about the issue. Even worse, it has been so devastating having a country like the United States who preaches freedom and justice continuously neglect the atrocities it has done to its neighbors in order maintain its power.  Speaking these truths will not change everything, because as much as one can attempt to educate others there is no guarantee they will change their position on the issues but it is a start. After such efforts are exhausted, maybe a Zapatista style revolution is in order.

Meanwhile, I hope to work on showing how the issue is not only at our doorstep here in North Carolina but has made a home of it. Local law enforcement in NC has continuously worked with federal immigration authorities, in-state tuition and other government education aid is denied for undocumented immigrants, raids and surveillance occur across our communities, detention centers in rural southern towns exploit systematic incarceration by locking up our people, and the regional immigration courts prosecute us without mercy.

Being undocumented has defined and meant a lot for me. Some good, some bad, but what will come of it in my future depends. It depends because I am one of the fortunate ones. I like to think that my story is one of success thankfully to all of those who have supported me. Throughout my personal life and in Tucson I listened to many other stories and for the most part they were not as lucky as mine. These individuals have undergone harsh experiences, and I can only hope that their resilience inspires me and many others to commit to the fight. I may not be able to achieve much, and it may take a long time but I know that every life I can help is worth it.

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