An Open Letter From Undocumented, DACAmented and Formerly Undocumented Leaders to the Immigrant Rights Movement

Jun 15, 2020
8:00 AM

A sign protesting immigrant detention camps is pictured on a fence outside the closed Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct now surrounded by the area known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), in Seattle, Washington on June 11, 2020. (Photo by JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images)

Editor’s Note: On Monday morning, Latino Rebels received the following open letter for publication. It has since been published on Medium by the organizers who drafted the letter and gathered signatures.

On the eighth anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, we’re releasing this open letter to the immigrant rights movement with a clear demand: not a single person or organization should use the rescission of DACA to seek compromises that further fund any immigration enforcement in exchange for relief for some of us. Do not sell out immigrant communities.

We are a group of DACA recipients, undocumented or formerly undocumented allies with more than ten years of experience and knowledge rooted in organizing and community work. Our politics have expanded and shifted beyond our own lived experiences.

The immigrant rights movement must also commit to fighting for justice for all communities of color, including Black communities—who are disproportionately impacted by deportations. We believe that this is the right moment to echo the Black Lives Movement’s demand to defund the police and be clear that we must also abolish ICE.

Contrary to popular belief, President Obama didn’t announce DACA out of the goodness of his heart. Undocumented immigrant youth and our communities organized and fought to stop our own deportations one by one, organized sit-ins at his 2012 re-election campaign offices, protested and marched, and engaged in civil disobedience across the country. We organized actions calling for #Not1More deportations, such as the Undocubus that culminated in Charlotte, NC at the 2012 DNC Convention. Many of these tactics we learned from the Civil Rights Movement and the fight for Black liberation—all of which made DACA possible.

Simply put, undocumented activists young and old put ourselves at risk and made DACA a reality.

Even with DACA, three million people were deported under the Obama administration. Those deportations continue to this date, and it’s gotten worse.

Under President Trump, dozens of undocumented immigrants have been murdered at the hands of CBP and ICE, including Roxsana Hernández and Johana Medina, two trans women seeking asylum, multiple children, including Claudia Patrica Gómez González, Carlos Gregorio Hernández Vásquez, Jakelin Caal Maquín, indigenous Guatemalan children. Thousands of children are not accounted for once separated from their parents in the hands of CBP. Racist government institutions act with complete impunity, and we have seen the rise of white supremacy targeting Black people, communities of color and immigrant communities.

We are about to witness the Supreme Court slash DACA and put about 650,000 DACA recipients, including many of us, at risk of deportation. But this time we cannot do business as usual.

As the uprising across the country in support of Black lives continues to shift the country’s political conscience, we want to acknowledge that Black immigrants are cruelly targeted by this country’s immigration policies. We support Black organizers and communities that are leading the protests and marches across the United States and the world to demand justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and are calling for the police to be defunded and for governments to invest those resources in Black communities.

Many of us started organizing to save our communities as youth, and as the years have gone by, we’ve seen the broad immigrant rights movement be co-opted and divided based on narratives of who’s deserving (the model dreamer) and who’s not. We’ve seen organizations try to strike deals with Democrats and Republicans without undocumented people at the table or at the expense of the most vulnerable in our communities.

We are here to remind all DACA recipients, mainstream immigrant rights organizations, undocumented people, and allies to look inward as you move forward in this critical movement.

We make the following demands of leaders of immigrant rights organizations and politicians who are thinking of using the rescission of DACA to seek compromises on our community’s behalf. And we hope that these demands are widely heard by our own community as well:

  • Stop using narratives that promote anti-Blackness and that pit us against the movement for Black Lives as there are Black undocumented immigrants. You must fully embrace the movement for Black Lives and that means embracing Black undocumented immigrants too.
  • No more legislation, backdoor deals, or compromises with politicians who have a history of being anti-immigrant or who continue to uphold the “model or good immigrant” narrative and criminalizes the rest of us.
  • #Not1More means exactly that, not one more of our people deported, murdered, violated, or abused by ICE, the police, and Customs and Border Patrol.
  • Undocumented people and those directly impacted by this issue must be the strategists, organizers, spokespeople, and architects of our movement.
  • Recognize that the solutions will come from those who are directly affected and not from DC. We know the problem because we live them on a daily basis and therefore we have the solutions.
  • It is overdue for the movement to evolve and that will only happen if we are all empowered to take action and not wait for immigrant rights institutions to tell us to do so.
  • It is imperative that organizations talk about how the U.S. foreign policies of intervention and destabilization of our home countries is what forces most of us to come here. Our families “seek a better future” here because the U.S. forces us to come here.

The Trump administration decided to end this program as a way to use immigrant youth as a bargaining chip to enact his racist immigration agenda. We will not let this happen. DACA recipients will not trade our safety and well-being for the criminalization of Black, Native, and People of Color.

We ask everyone to not look away and to join us in a day of action on the day of the SCOTUS DACA decision. No matter what the decision is, we will:

  • Join the Black Lives Matter movement in a demand for the government to #DefundThePolice across the country and reinvest in housing, education, economic support, climate justice, healthcare, and mental health services.
  • Demand the federal government to defund ICE and CBP as a first step to #AbolishICE.
  • Demand for Trump to resign.

We must remember that the police and ICE are part of the same systems that murder, incarcerate and deport Black, Brown and People of Color. We must organize to abolish ICE and defund the police.

Join us on this day of action and let’s fight like hell for all of us!

Jorge Gutierrez
Erika Andiola
Nancy Meza
Lucia Allain
Carlos Rojas Rodriguez
Justino Mora
Juana Guzman
Julio Salgado
Aly Wane
Belén Sisa
Jonathan Jayes-Green
Neidi Dominguez
Carolina Canizales
Nicole Solis-Sison
Jose Manuel Vasquez
Barbara Elena Sahagún
Renata Mauriz
Yadira Hernandez
Set Hernandez Rongkilyo
Maria Mayorga
Cindy Agustin
Miriam O. Nunez Valdovinos
Dorian Gomez Pestana
Antonio Ortuno
Ruben Barreto
Isaias Vasquez
Karla Estrada
Emilio Vicente
Dago Bailon
Monica Reyes
Anthony Ng
Isabel O’Neal
Karina Ruiz
Oscar Uriel Zarate
Mario De Leon
Aiko Marcial Rivera
Aldair Arriola Gomez
Marcos Nieves
Lilia Rebeca Roman Mijares
Yadira Alonzo
Jose Salazar
Maria Garcia
Juan Ruiz
Ayla Roman
Pedro Torres
Jorge Resendez
Luis Gomez<
Berenise Ruiz Almanza
Alejandro Ortega
Pedro Carrillo
Yadira Alonzo
Lucia Yao
Alberto Villanueva
Chandler Sanchez
Maria Rangel Leon
Yael Pineda
Josefina Flores
Oscar J. Luna
Guerline M Jozef
Madelyn Kamholz
Christina Thompson
Heather Hunt
Karen Perez
Pamela Reséndiz Trujano
Antonia Rivera

Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement
Haitian Bridge Alliance
Padres y Jóvenes Unidos Action Fund
Undocumented Filmmakers Collective
Trans Queer Pueblo
Arizona Dream Act Coalition
Progressive Democrats of America
Compton Tenants Union