I’m breaking the hiatus of this blog just to welcome—and bien emocionado—the guest voice of my compa Yovany Díaz Tolentino, a great y valiente luchador who has been fighting for the rights of the undocumented in Georgia and across the country.
This has been a busy year for Yovany. He has been organizing along with the crazy cats from the Georgia Undocumented Youth Alliance (GUYA). He also got arrested during the Undocubus stop at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte (which enforces 287g).
And, no contento con eso, he even found time to go back to school junto a otros jóvenes indocumentados que estudian en la Freedom University en Georgia, as NPR (and many others way before them) reported.
Pero como mi compa no se puede estar quieto, just last week he decided he needed to do more. That is why he joined a group of undocumented youth from the DRM Coalition on a trip to Kansas to challenge Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State and the architect of the harsh antiimmigrant laws proposed and implemented in many states.
So, with no further ado, here’s Yovany’s account:
I found my undocumented self at the Atlanta airport heading to Topeka, Kansas, to help DRM Action Coalition take down Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is behind the wave of antiimmigrant legislations across the country.
Sure, the presence of immigration agents at the airport was frightening, but I’m a dreamer and I was more excited about facing and taking down one of the most racist persons alive.
But this is a fight I was not taking up by myself. Dreamers from states like New York, Mississippi, Arizona, Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia converged in Topeka, Kansas, with one mission: deliver a letter asking Mr. Kobach to end his lawsuit against the President’s deferred action program that allows undocumented youth like myself to stay out of deportation and grants a 2-year work permit.
This, however, does not grant me any in-state intuition for college or help me pursue higher education.
In our letter, we tell Kobach the following: “You cost your party (Republican) our community’s support. Its time for you to resign as Kansas Secretary of State and to stop taking your antiimmigration message to other states.”
Kobach is the author of Arizona’s S.B. 1070 and Alabama’s H.B. 56. He’s also a supporter of programs like 287(g), Secure Communities, and E-Verify through which he hopes to make the lives of undocumented immigrants so unbearable that we would simply self-deport.
Latinos have been hurt the most when these programs are implemented. We’re being racially profiled in communities across the country, no matter if we have documents or not.
About 60 dreamers gathered at the footsteps of Memorial Hall, where the Secretary of State has his office, and four brave dreamers went in to deliver the letter and talk to him.
As this went on inside Memorial Hall, I shared my story surrounded by my peers and the media that had arrived.
I decided to advocate for immigration rights in the beginning of 2012 out of necessity. I am undocumented and my legal status has affected my life entirely.
I have lived in the US for 17 years. I have gone to school. I have gotten involved in my community. I fight for my rights. So, Mr. Kobach does not have the right to call me illegal, nor does he have the right to separate families through the pieces of legislation he’s authored.
Time went by and it became clear that Mr. Kobach was not going to come out. But we wanted him to hear us. Along with the other dreamers we chanted “Kobach, Kobach! Come out see what Dreamers are about!!”
In the end, our mission of exposure was a success. We let him know that we’re after him and anybody else who is not willing to work for full inclusive immigration reform. Their job now depends on it.
As a dreamer, this experience helped me bond with other leaders who are undocumented and unafraid, just like me.
There was soon-to-be undocumented lawyer Cesar from New York, Ingrid, Erika, Alex, and Alabama’s dream champ Victor. These Dreamers have inspired me to keep fighting for full inclusive immigration reform.