I’m Formerly Undocumented. And I’m Running for Congress.

Mar 16, 2017
8:41 PM

Editor’s Note: Latino Rebels will always welcome submissions by Latinx people running for office. We do not endorse any candidate, but we will always publish candidates pieces sent to us.

I’m not afraid to be a loud, bold, progressive who will unapologetically stand up for what I believe in: That women’s rights are human rights; that love is love is love is love; that Black Lives Matter; that the Fight for $15 should be national; that we should Say Her Name; that Mni Wiconi (water is life); that we’re Here to Stay; and that Sí, se puede.

We’re facing a racist Republican president who uses the bully pulpit to spew hatred and fear, an ideologically perverted Republican party and complacent moderates. Now is not the time to stay on the sidelines.

In my own community, Rómulo Avelica Gómez was detained while dropping his kids off at school. He was eventually released, but there’s a heart-wrenching video of his daughter sobbing as ICE agents wearing POLICE jackets take him into custody. It’s absolutely wrong and a reminder of the climate our communities live in.

We’ve also heard of DREAMers across the country who have been followed and detained, and even a woman who needed immediate medical attention for a brain tumor. In Tacoma, Washington, Daniel Ramírez Medina remains in custody, despite the fact that he is a DACA recipient. We’re also hearing stories that Steve Bannon is reportedly keeping DACA in his back pocket for strategic use.

Once again, this administration is de-humanizing people who look like me, using our futures as legislative pawns in the pursuit of nativism.

I recognize my privilege—as a formerly undocumented child who had a pathway to residency, I became a naturalized citizen when I was in my early twenties. I took an oath to protect this nation and that’s part of the reason I’m running for Congress.

Running isn’t a cakewalk. There are a lot of other qualified candidates in the race. It’s a total uphill battle and no, I don’t have nearly as much money as some of my opponents. I definitely won’t get many endorsements. There are a lot of established candidates in the race. There’s also movement candidates in the race whom I respect.

There’s too much at stake. I think the fight for human rights is interlaced with foreign policy, and understanding that the fight for human rights and social justice goes beyond our borders, a lesson I learned when as a journalist, I covered the missing 43 students of Ayotzinapa. The fight for indigenous rights is also not just something you read about in Central America: elders, women and children were tear gassed at Standing Rock. Black men and women are gunned down in our streets with impunity. Some are even choked publicly while pleading “I can’t breathe.” Enough is enough.

I’m running, because I can’t watch this administration take a torch to the Constitution. I want to stand up for the American Dream, stand up for a country of promise, not a country of fear and oppression. This country was here when I needed it, and now I want to be there for it.


Wendy Carrillo is running to represent the people of California’s 34th Congressional District in Los Angeles. The election is on April 4, and one of the first federal elections since Donald Trump “won” last November. To find out more, visit www.votewendycarrillo.com.