DOCUMENTING THE UNDOCUMENTED

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My name is Beto Soto, and I have been a DACA recipient for four years.

Growing up with undocumented status is not easy. It is even more challenging when you hit adulthood. We are brought to this country without any knowledge or insight into what our adult lives will be like. We are brought here with the hopes for a better future and a safe environment. You can feel the bright future and safety until you are expected to go through American rites of passage. You begin to see that you are not able to drive or obtain employment. Fear rises when you are asked for a Social Security number. A news update about ICE raids can leave you with the bitter taste of uncertainty.

For a fact, we are resilient, hard-working people, and we make the best of what is given to us.

Through the Trump administration, we have faced so many attacks as undocumented Americans, ranging from the vocal anti-immigrant language in the mass media to rescinding a program that gives a safety net to many young adults with dreams of becoming successful.

 

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program provides temporary relief to us undocumented folks who were brought to the United States as children. It allowed us to gain employment and two years of relief from deportation. Those who have qualified for the DACA privilege have taken it upon ourselves to be visible for those who cannot risk their safety. It also allows us to face stakeholders and demand support and policies for the estimated 11 million undocumented individuals living in the United States.

 

My project focuses on activists who have stepped out of the shadows to fight and speak for those who cannot risk their livelihoods. Through seven participants, we explore the undocumented experience through their advocacy and personal stories.

Our stories as undocumented Americans need to be heard and understood in order to create social change for immigrant communities.