What would you do if your brother or sister were facing deportation? Would you stand with them? Would you encourage them to fight it? The following essay was written by Angelica Velazquillo, the sister of Erick Velazquillo, who is currently in deportation proceedings. His next court date is July 19, and we need you to sign this petition to keep him home.
By Angelica Velazquillo
I have kept a low profile for years. I have felt ashamed, frustrated, and limited by a secret I have only shared with a few close friends and faculty- I am undocumented. This has caused me and my family fear of being judged, criminalized, and deported.
The weight of this secret has become unbearable, as anti-immigrant legislation has increased throughout the country. This fear became a reality when on October 11, 2010 my brother was pulled over for having his high beams on. I remember the fear on my mother’s face because we both knew what this could mean for my brother and my family.
It was a nightmare coming from the police department to my brother’s empty room, knowing he was spending the night in a jail cell. This was the first of three sleepless nights I spent wondering when I would see my brother again, and praying he would not be transferred to a detention center in Georgia.
While I have lived with fear most of my life it was not until the evening of June 9th that I realized how debilitating it was to succumb to fear. I was at the Bank of America Stadium where Costa Rica was playing soccer against El Salvador, and soon after Mexico would be playing against Cuba. I approached a lady and asked her if she would sign my brother’s petition to stop his deportation. For a fleeting moment there was panic and fear on her face.
This was the moment I realized that if I gave in to fear nothing would change. If I did not speak out against what was happening to my brother, my family, and other fellow immigrants, our struggle would be ignored. Silence would be an agreement, an approval of the injustices being committed against youth, like my brother, who would qualify for and benefit from the Dream Act passing. These young adults are being treated as criminals for a decision they did not make.
The fear that I allowed to rule me began to dissipate. I would no longer remain silent. I would no longer encourage my brother to take a voluntary departure. It was time to share our story; it was time to speak out, to break the shackles of fear we allowed to enslave us. Only with courage will we have an opportunity to help our community, to ask for accountability, and to point out the discrepancy between politicians’ words and the actions of local governments against undocumented youth.
This is why I am coming out- to share my brother’s story, to share my story, and to be a voice who encourages others to come out of the shadows.
Are you in Charlotte, NC and want to get involved? Are you undocumented and tired of being afraid? Contact email@example.com and we’ll help you get started.
Meet Erick Velazquillo – argus community
Hello my name is Erick Velazquillo. I want to share my story with you of how I was brought to the United States as a child, grew up as a Mexican-American, and I am now facing a deportation order. I need your support to help me stay in the only country I know as home.
I was born in Mexico City on November 29, 1988. I came to the United States in September 1990. I was two years old at the time. I lived in New York City until the summer of 1998 when my family decided to relocate to Charlotte, North Carolina. Since then Charlotte has become my home. I finished elementary school, middle school, high school and completed a two – year transfer degree at a local community college.
While everything may seem ideal and normal it is actually not for those of us who are undocumented. My parents told us the truth about our immigration status but my sister and I did not realize how this would limit us until we got to high school. This is when I realized being undocumented meant living in two worlds. There was the safe world of school where my main concern was getting good grades to attend college. Then there was the real world where people were marching, where undocumented workers were being deported.
Eventually these two worlds converged. I learned it would be difficult to attend college because I was undocumented. This meant I was not eligible for any type of federal aid and it was up to each university’s discretion to accept students who are undocumented. Regardless of this challenge, I completed a two – year transfer degree at Central Piedmont Community College and obtained an Associate of Arts degree. I then planned to transfer to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to continue my education. Unfortunately, even though I was accepted to the university, due to my immigration status I was not eligible for any type of financial aid and I would have to pay out of state tuition, which I cannot afford. Therefore my only option was to continue taking classes at the community college.
To make matters worse, in October 2010 around 8 pm I was coming home from the gym when I was pulled over for having my high beams on in Matthews, North Carolina. When I got pulled over I gave the police officer my name – Erick Domingo Velazquillo. The police officer was not able to find me in the computer so he decided to search my vehicle for my license, as I had misplaced it. He found my expired license in my gym bag and accused me of lying about my identity because my license does not show my middle name Domingo.
The police officer arrested me and charged me with driving without a license and giving fictitious information to an officer because the name on my license read Erick Velazquillo Franco. Franco is my mother’s maiden name, and the DMV wrongfully added this after my last name, thus making Velazquillo seem like my middle name and eliminating my real middle name altogether. As you can see, I did not give the officer wrongful information; there was an inconsistency between my name and the DMV’s error.
I spent three days in the Charlotte Mecklenburg County jail and was bailed out with a five thousand dollar bond. I felt mad, disappointed and betrayed. I felt that everything that I worked for, and everything that my parents worked for did not mean anything.
The time I spent in jail and the idea of being deported back to Mexico hurt me, but what truly bothered me the most was the look on my parents faces and seeing their frustration, their expressions of tiredness, and knowing in the back of my head that my parents worked hard for a lousy pay and here they were after sleepless nights happy to see me.
It is difficult to be treated as a criminal when I have lived in the United States my whole life. This is the only country that I know. If I had an expired license it was because the laws changed just before my 18th birthday and I was not able to obtain my full license or renew it once it expired because I lack a social security number.
I am a good student and an active member of the community. It saddens me that there is a possibility I may be deported due to something I had no control over. The only dream I have is to contribute to this nation, the nation I know as home, and to achieve the American Dream. I would like to continue my education in order to work and give back to my community. This is the reason I ask the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to reconsider my deportation and grant me deferred action. Likewise I am asking that you please sign this petition to support me in my efforts to remain in the United States of America. Thank you.
If you’re an undocumented youth in North Carolina in deportation proceedings and all the lawyers and the organizations have said there is nothing they can do to help you, it’s time to help yourself. Your best chance at staying in the country is to come out and fight back! For starters, check out Education Not Deportation: A Guide for Undocumented Youth in Removal Proceedings. Then, send us your story at firstname.lastname@example.org. Education is a human right and remember you are not alone.