Undocumented and Unafraid: Immigrants Share Their Stories

PHOTO: Jose Mondragon (left) Jesus Daniel Mendez Carbajal and Manuel Enriquez hold signs in support of undocumented immigrants at a coming out rally in Los Angeles.
Albert Sabaté

Immigration right advocates have called on Congress to present a bill for comprehensive immigration reform this month. Rallies, actions and demonstrations meant to put pressure on legislative leaders have increased as stakeholders push for swift action.

March is "Coming Out of the Shadows Month," where undocumented immigrants are encouraged to shed their fear and share their stories publically to inspire others to come out too. Increasingly, undocumented immigrants are coming forward.

Here are some of the stories of undocumented immigrants who have recently come out.

PHOTO: Brian Flores says it doesn't matter where you started but where you end.
Albert Sabaté
Brian Flores

I'm undocumented an unafraid.

I came with my mom. My dad had already crossed. It was hard for us—we were poor. We only had our hopes and dreams.

My mother crossed first. I was supposed follow but at the last minute we pulled out. I was left with an unknown family for two weeks before I would be crossed. I didn't know if I'd ever see my family again.

I always knew I was undocumented, but that didn't deter me from being who I want to be. People look down on me, as if I were a criminal. But no paper will say I'm not human or don't have rights.

All of us are lucky to be here. Some of us could have died at the border, many have.

I want to be someone who changes lives. I believe that it doesn't matter where you started but where you end.

PHOTO: Claudia Ramirez says attempted to take her life during her depression over being undocumented.
Albert Sabaté
Claudia Ramirez

I came to visit my father. But then he got hurt. He hurt his back and was immobilized. He couldn't take care of himself or go to the bathroom. My mother and I had to ask whether to return home or stay for him. We chose to keep the family together.

The first time I shared in school that I was undocumented, kids jeered and taunted me. The more time that passed, the more I felt like trash. Like I had sinned. I had so much sadness.

I put my energy into school and excelled. Even though I worked hard, I still feared deportation. When I went to college, it was a bad experience. When I asked for financial aid, I was told there was nothing for me. I became depressed.

I was depressed and didn't ask for help. I wanted pill to end my life. It was cheaper than coming up with the money for school.

I attempted to commit suicide. My mother, who noticed something was wrong, took me to the hospital.

Eventually, I overcame depression thanks to joining the movement.

I accept who I am. We shouldn't hide. It's not going to lead us anywhere. If we want change but can't vote, we must unite. Nobody will do anything for me. I will do something. We are all human and deserve to be treated that way.

Si se puede.

PHOTO: Lucy Sanchez says it was difficult to leave her children with strangers when she crossed.
Albert Sabaté
Lucy Sanchez

It was very difficult – exposing our children and ourselves to danger. I had to leave my children for others to cross them. I wonder if I'd ever see them again.

Why did I come? To seek a better life, to reach our dreams freely and on our own terms.

We're not criminals – that's why I'm here. I'm here so people see us – so that they have no more fear in saying, "I am undocumented."

PHOTO: Mary Perez says being undocumented is constricting.
Albert Sabaté
Mary Perez

I came here when I was 6 years old.

When you're undocumented, you can't really travel. I feel trapped, like I have to stay and can't get around.

I'm here today to be part of this great movement. For me coming out of the shadows is something I have to do, I need it. I can no longer be afraid. I am no longer afraid to speak up. I'm no longer afraid to say that I'm human too.

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