What would you do if your brother or sister were facing deportation? Would you stand with them? Would you encourage them to fight it? The following essay was written by Angelica Velazquillo, the sister of Erick Velazquillo, who is currently in deportation proceedings. His next court date is July 19, and we need you to sign this petition to keep him home.
By Angelica Velazquillo
I have kept a low profile for years. I have felt ashamed, frustrated, and limited by a secret I have only shared with a few close friends and faculty- I am undocumented. This has caused me and my family fear of being judged, criminalized, and deported.
The weight of this secret has become unbearable, as anti-immigrant legislation has increased throughout the country. This fear became a reality when on October 11, 2010 my brother was pulled over for having his high beams on. I remember the fear on my mother’s face because we both knew what this could mean for my brother and my family.
It was a nightmare coming from the police department to my brother’s empty room, knowing he was spending the night in a jail cell. This was the first of three sleepless nights I spent wondering when I would see my brother again, and praying he would not be transferred to a detention center in Georgia.
While I have lived with fear most of my life it was not until the evening of June 9th that I realized how debilitating it was to succumb to fear. I was at the Bank of America Stadium where Costa Rica was playing soccer against El Salvador, and soon after Mexico would be playing against Cuba. I approached a lady and asked her if she would sign my brother’s petition to stop his deportation. For a fleeting moment there was panic and fear on her face.
This was the moment I realized that if I gave in to fear nothing would change. If I did not speak out against what was happening to my brother, my family, and other fellow immigrants, our struggle would be ignored. Silence would be an agreement, an approval of the injustices being committed against youth, like my brother, who would qualify for and benefit from the Dream Act passing. These young adults are being treated as criminals for a decision they did not make.
The fear that I allowed to rule me began to dissipate. I would no longer remain silent. I would no longer encourage my brother to take a voluntary departure. It was time to share our story; it was time to speak out, to break the shackles of fear we allowed to enslave us. Only with courage will we have an opportunity to help our community, to ask for accountability, and to point out the discrepancy between politicians’ words and the actions of local governments against undocumented youth.
This is why I am coming out- to share my brother’s story, to share my story, and to be a voice who encourages others to come out of the shadows.
Are you in Charlotte, NC and want to get involved? Are you undocumented and tired of being afraid? Contact email@example.com and we’ll help you get started.