Saturday, December 22, 2012

Thoughts on Intentions and Beliefs

"A satirist is someone who has a very skeptical view human nature,
but who still has some optimism to make some sort of joke out of it.
However brutal that joke may be." Stanley Kubrick 
As of late, I've been pondering on my intentions and beliefs in terms of what I have been doing with my life the last few years or so. Things are always moving at such a fast pace, that it's only around the holidays, when the world sort of slows down by default, that I get the opportunity to ponder things through and make some sense of things. With Christmas around the corner and everyone spending time with their families, I'm left with a space to reflect on whether or not I think the intentions and beliefs I have, or lack there of, are helping me as an individual. 

It's only natural that I see things differently than when I first started doing activism and social justice work. But now more than ever, I think back on how I was moving forward little by little doing anything and everything I could, to now not wanting to do anything but be left alone so I can drink a beer in peace and ride my bike. And that's putting it lightly. My intentions and beliefs have made a 180 degree turn since when I first got involved with activism. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Random Thoughts

Been a minute since I've had the chance to slow down and reflect on things here. Between starting a new job, finishing the school semester and winding down the year, things keep on moving forward, and I wouldn't want them any other way. I enjoy being busy much more than having nothing to do and dwell on things that are not worth my time anymore.

That being said, I'm liking how this year is ending. All the growth I've done personally and with others has lead to new ideas that will be flushed out in the year to come. If I had to sum up this year, I think that's the word I would use, growth. While some areas still need more work than others, I'm starting to find balance that once escaped me and joys that I have over looked.

I still may not be where I want to be, but at least I'm not where I use to be. And to be frank, I still don't know where I want to be or go. There's alotta things up in the air and how they turn will determine what paths I have the option of following. That being said, I truly am grateful for the friends that I have supporting me and helping me grow as a person. Hopefully things stay busy around here.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Public Enemy - Icebreaker

Without a doubt, the impact Public Enemy has had as a musical/political group has influenced me immensely. They broke it down like no one else could and to this day, they continue to bring awareness to issues through their music. Their latest song, 'Icebreaker' talks about immigration and deportations here in the US. You gotta check it out.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Applying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

And thus the long awaited post is here, me applying for Deferred Action. I never made applying a priority, but it was something on the back of my head. It wasn't until a lawyer broke it down and answered some of my questions did I finally felt comfortable in wanting to apply. The fact of the matter is that government paper work is always intimidating in numerous aspects. The language used, showing proof of your presence, not knowing whether you are filling out the application right etc. It's no wonder most folks lawyer up and pay for services to do it right the first time around.

I however, have the privilege of having access to resources and support beyond what anyone outside of the immigrant rights movement can get. I started collecting all of my paper work little by little. The final and longest piece that I needed, my transcripts from the Los Angeles Unified School District, took the longest because of spelling errors in my name. Go figure. The rest of the documents were easy enough to gather since I have that stuff in storage and what not. After that it was a matter of just sending out a text, sending out an email and BAM!! I have a lawyer lined up to look at my application.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Reflecting beside myself

Photo by Polvo de Luz
There are days in which I can't help but just stand beside myself and digest what the hell I'm doing. These moments of self reflection usually lead me to think on events that got to said position that triggered reflecting and acknowledge all of the change that has happened around me and within me. It becomes surreal after a while if I dwell on it too much.

But for sure, I trip out on where I find myself sometimes. 10 years ago, 5 years ago, hell even last week. Things are constantly in motion and I've always been one to go with the flow. To be like water, to have no set form/shape and to adapt to my container. In doing that, I have been fortunate to continue growing as an individual and as a member of a community.

I've also had to eat my words here and there, but that's because I have mouth that's faster than my brain. I've learned most of my lessons through those experiences. But if there's one thing that I still seems outta place, it's my role in the immigrant rights, undocumented youth and in the last few years, labor movement. I never had aspirations to be an organizer in any shape or form. It was just something that sort of happened along the way.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Video from my participation on the Huffpost Live

So earlier this week, I was on the Huffington Post Live talking about a new program that the city of Los Angeles wants to start, which is to give folks a city issued ID that will allow them access to specific services, much like a library card, but is being marketed toward folks who are undocumented immigrants. I think the ID's are complete bullshit, but I say that with the privilege of having a bank account, being bilingual and knowing how to navigate these financial systems.

Other folks, for numerous reasons that aren't valid or to be dismissed, don't have access to these kind of resources. Anyway, I was part of a panel on the Huffpost talking about the ID's and what they mean in the larger conversation of cities being more immigrant friendly by offering services like these. I totally ended up dominating the conversation and I inadvertently checked the two other folks in the panel. Watch the video and you'll see what I mean.

Ana Tijoux at the Echoplex this Sunday 11/18

I had the pleasure of seeing Ana Tijoux perform live here in Los Angeles over the summer. My friend Kris turned me on to her and I've been in love with her music since then. Ana is a rare voice in the male dominated genre of hip hop. Not only that, but she holds it down by having songs that range from the attacks on immigrants here in the US, but the gentrification and displacement happening all over Latin America.

She's going to be performing at the Echoplex this Sunday, so catch her if you can. You won't be disappointed with the show if your a fan of hip hop. And if you still need more incentive, check out this free download of her song, "Shock." And if that still doesn't change your mind, then there's nothing I can do for you.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Slide show interview on my experiences being undocumented

USC student Shako Liu got in contact with me a while back for her class project. She wanted to initially do a slide show on me going through the process of applying for Deferred Action. However, delays in paper work and what not delayed things and since she needed to complete her project for her class, she switched it up to me talking about my experiences being undocumented.

The slide show is what it is, me being myself and just talking about my personal experiences growing up undocumented. For the project, Shako caught me hanging out at a local coffee shop kicking it with friends, riding my bike for Ciclavia and during a party in which I was completely cross faded. In fact, at minute 1:58 you can see me smoking a fat blunt. What can I say, I love to have a good time :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

When belonging is a double edge sword

Ironic to think that for the longest time, I longed to belong to something. Primarily, I searched and craved to find and connect with other folks who are in the same boat as me. Being undocumented, growing up in the US for the majority of our formative years and understanding the struggles our status entails. For years it seemed like I was alone and no one could relate to these experiences.

However, when I did find others like me. When I read stories about them in newspapers, saw videos and saw that there was a movement of undocumented individuals coming together and connecting to help each other out, I didn't hesitate to throw myself in the mix and become involved in whatever capacity I had. I didn't question, critically think and analyze anything. I just wanted to belong to something and connect with my peers because I didn't want to feel alone anymore.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The unappreciated undocumented life

In the past, I've never fully appreciated my experiences growing up undocumented. For the longest time, I saw everything from a negative lens, and even now, there are times in which my first reactions are negative ones. It's a lot easier to hate than to appreciate. First of all, I'm a sucker for oppression games. If you didn't share similar or worse experiences in terms of where and how you grew up, I'd be quick to dismiss you and your personal experiences because in my view, you haven't struggled enough.

It's a petty and limited view of things and I've realized that over time. I still work at checking myself when I start to fall into old habits like that and when I do have something to say, I think about it before putting my foot in my mouth, as such is the case most of the time. Reflecting reminded me of a lot of things I take for granted because as I've gotten older, so have my views and interpretations of past experiences. I've been redefining my past experiences from negative to positive, at least trying to.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Arrested Development

For the longest time, it was always easy to blame whatever wasn't right in my life on my immigration status. Since I was seven years, I've been aware that I'm undocumented and it affected what my decision making process was, has been and will be. It's easy to say that I have don't have independence, stability or a kind of academic success because I'm undocumented. But then again, I never did give a fuck, I just used my status as an anchor point to cry wolf, draw attention to myself and revel in self pity and loathing.

Alas, it's only now that I'm in my late 20's that things are coming into place, and most importantly, making a kind of sense that is tangible and not just cursing at the wind. There are parts of me that wish that I had mad better decisions in my youth in terms of school, work, adapting to responsibility versus trying to delay it for as long as possible. It's only now that I am returning to responsibilities that I once avoided not because of need, but because I'm ready for them and I want them.

I've always had the tenacity to be bouncing around from one thing to another. Something I got from my parents because that's the way we grew up. I can't help feel a bit foolish at how much I've changed and grown and how things are developing around me. November is always a time for reflecting for me, and reflecting I have been doing. I feel like a jackass at times too in that things I've said are either coming back to my face and smacking me or I'm redefining them into something positive.

None the less, I'm constantly working on not inhibiting myself from growing as a person in all shapes or forms. It's not easy and things aren't always planned, but that's just how things are veda? More than anything I'm grateful for the friends that I have, lending me their support in all shapes and forms. For too long, my answer to everything was because I'm undocumented, but not anymore. Now if things aren't working out, it's because I'm not doing my best to make them happen and my apathy gets the better of me. Like I said, it's not easy, but I'm making progress here and there.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

When good intentions go wrong

That awkward moment when an ally wants to help out with the best of intentions, but something goes wrong along the way? This is one of those moments. Josefina Lopez of "Real Women Have Curves" fame is someone I have met in multiple facets. I have met her as a playwright, as a neighbor in Boyle Heights, a fellow lover of the arts, and as a patron of her theater Casa 0101. I've heard Josefina share her families story of coming to the US on multiple occasions. However, in this latest story, Josefina said something that made me do a what the fuck?

"The Amnesty law definitely had an impact on me. I was a back before it was cool to be a I became legal and so did my whole family and it changed everything for us. It gave me the freedom to finally do what I wanted -- to go to college."

Yeah, what the fuck right? She was a 'dreamer' before it was cool? Huh, it never once occurred to me in the last 20 years of being undocumented, that I was cool for living such a life style. Josefina wrote that little tid bit in a piece where she talks about how her family came to live in LA. In the piece, she talks about her dad being a bracero, what they went through and how they adjusted their status with the Amnesty of the 80's. She also talks about being undocumented for 13 yrs.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Where was I on June 15th?

I'm gathering my paper work for Deferred Action little by little and when I started thinking about what I was doing on June 15th when the announcement was made, I remembered I was on my way home to shower and change clothes caused I got drunk the night before hahahah. I saw the tweet about the announcement as I was getting on the bus that very morning at 7 am.

Course I was also out and about later on in the day because there was a rally planned the same day the DACA announcement just happened to be made.  I had the privilege of having my presence on June 15th be recorded by news media who interviewed me on the announcement and my thoughts on it. And I do mean privilege because not everyone is in a position to be hit up for interviews at the drop of a hat, have the opportunity to have their voice heard, to represent to a certain extent my peers and to have something tangible to prove my presence that day. 

First there's this Southern California Public Radio recording of me being talking over the phone, giving my thoughts right off the top of my head as an action was going on. I come in at 7:28. The second piece came later in the day via a phone interview I did with a reporter for the Huffington Post, which you can read here.

As I'm putting all this paper work together and I realize that putting my life out on blast the last few years is paying off in unexpected ways. My cyber life may very well help me prove my continued presence in the US to the government. It also makes me think about how things will work out once the person going over my application sees that I'm a quasi-celebrity/high profile person within the dream movement. Will that influence that application process for the better or for worse?

Friday, October 19, 2012

ICE Holds to be Challenged

“It’s important that people realize that this could happen to anyone. It’s not just undocumented immigrants. I’m lucky that I can get out and be heard — many of the people I met in there can’t.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California is taking on a case to help folks who have been held in held in jails for extended periods of time because of ICE holds placed on them.

"Six people have brought a landmark class-action lawsuit against Sheriff Baca and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) on grounds they are or were illegally detained in the jails and stations of Los Angeles County Jail for days, weeks, or months after they were entitled to be released because they are the subject of “immigration holds.” Immigration holds, sometimes called “immigration detainers,” are notices issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) requesting that an individual in local custody be held pending further action. Unlike warrants, they are issued without any judicial determination of probable cause, and they are frequently issued in error."

Duncan Roy is one of the folks suing the LASD because he was held for 3 months and denied bail, despite being authorized to be in the country. This is the kind of shit that happens to immigrants on a daily basis, not just here in Los Angeles, but all over the US. Duncan himself talks about the unequivocal differences in his ability to have be bailed out because he was in the US with a permit versus folks who are undocumented and can't afford to post bail.

This isn't the first time something like this happens either, citizens have been deported because of policies like Secure Communities. And even though this law suit is going to put the spot light on immigrants being denied bail because of ICE holds, it'll never be enough until these kind of policies are terminated.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Trivial Phone Upgrades

I've been upgrading random little things as of late. Once I got my scholarship check from my summer internship, I paid back some debts, class fees etc. I started catching on other items that I wanted to upgrade. One of them was my phone. I went from a crappy HTC Wildfire S to and Evo 3D V, as you can see from the phone screen shot. I ended up getting rid of my jail broken Iphone earlier this year by going to Virgin Mobile. Best decision I ever made. $40 a month for unlimited texting, internet and 300 minutes. Way better than what I had before.

I had the Wildfire for a minute, and while it was nice to have internet access on my phone again, it wasn't cutting it. The phone had a 512 mb internal memory. I barely had enough room to do anything, let alone get more apps and features. That's why I traded up to the Evo 3D since it was one of the better phones Virgin offers. I looked up the specs and everything before I made up my mind and I'm waaaay better off with it. The fact that it has 1 gb of internal memory versus the 512 mb the wildfire had, means that I've been able to catch up social media wise.

After all that's how all of this got started and built up, through a smart phone. When I first started becoming more active in writing for this blog, and a few others I contribute to, my Iphone was my number one tool for accessing the internet, taking pics, video etc. Both smart phones and the Iphone itself have come a long way from the first generation model that I had, which makes it easier and cheaper for me to grab a phone that's giving me more options, tools and resources to work with than I've had the last few years.

So what does this all ultimately mean? Nothing really. I love technology and I geek out on apps, gathering information, taking pics, being on instagram all that mumbo jumbo. Ever since I got a laptop last year, things have been easier technology wise in all aspects of my life. Having a smarter phone only compliments it, even though I'll still a few steps behind the curve tech wise. But that's cool, I know how to make the best out of what I have and still come out on top.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Obama loves Dreamers apparently

This foo !!!! President Barrack Obama released a video today called, "Buen Ejemplo - Anuncio de Televisión de Obama for America." In the video, Obama says the following in a decent Spanish accent, "En los jóvenes conocidos como los DREAMers, veo las mismas cualidades que Michelle y yo tratamos de inculcar en nuestras hijas. Respetan a sus padres. Estudian para superarse. Y quieren aportar al único país que conocen y aman. Como padre, me inspiran. Y como Presidente su valentía me han hecho recordar que ningún obstáculo es muy grande. Ningún camino muy largo."

Loosely translated, Barrack says that he admires dreamers because we remind him of his daughters and the values they're instilling in them. That we respect our parents, want to study to move up in the world, and that we want to contribute to the country we love [the US]. That through us, we remind him that there's no obstacle too big, and no road too long.

Mutha fucker, seriously?? I call bullshit on this video. Obama got into office partly because he said he supports the Federal Dream Act and Comprehensive Immigration Reform. He touted that he would pass both by his first term. Thus far, all he's done is deport record amount of immigrants by using vile federal programs like Secure Communities. He's promoted a militant presence on the border chalking it up to fighting drug dealers. And if it wasn't for Dreamers pushing him, he never would have thought about Deferred Action.

And even then, Deferred Action is minuscule because his administration could have done much more, but they just performed the bare minimum and alienated millions in the process. This is a cheap move by Obama, using Dreamers to get voters. Not to mention that the video takes folks to his website where there's another clip of famed talk show host, Cristina Saralegui and an ask for money.

Reducing our movement to a fucking comercial. Fuck that man, there's Dreamers out there that support Obama and his shit for whatever reason, but I'm not one of them, specially when you get to the national level. Call it different political views, but if Obama is going to try and boost his numbers and image from Dreamers, he's got another thing coming.  

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Media and the use of the word 'illegal'

As a journalism student, I've always called bullshit on reporters using the word 'illegal immigrant' when referring to someone whose undocumented. I know first hand how things work and I know that there is a choice. Writers, editors, reports everyone has an option of choosing illegal, undocumented or even unauthorized when doing their stories. Using illegal just because the Associated Press says it's a neutral word, which it's not by the way, is just another cop out.

Straight out, the word illegal, like other derogatory words in history, is just that, a fucking put down created to polarize the issue of immigration, make it seem like an evil thing and to get the country to hate on immigrants. Don't believe me? Think it's a conspiracy theory? Read this and then tell me other wise. And it's worked perfectly. All of the media uses illegal and even folks who are undocumented identify with that word.

For me, more than anything, changing a word won't do much because folks will still find another way to convey their hate. Whether it be through a specific word, gesture or idea. That shit is never going to stop because no one can ever truly be neutral or objective, as reporters claim to be. Folks will always take sides on things. To that end, I'd just rather ignore them versus argue endlessly with them.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dreamers story told through comic

I can never say it enough, but I love comic books. I'm sure I've mentioned it once or twice here and there, about how comics have greatly influenced my life and how I live it. Well, I forget how I came across this comic collaboration, but as soon as I did I fell in love with it. The story of one dreamers experience being shared through the comic medium.

The story, "Jessica Colotl: Eye Of The Storm" follows Jessica's experience being detained and put in an immigration detention center and her eventual release after her community worked to get her out. And as fucked as her experience is, it's one that happens to countless immigrants everyday, but not everyone can stand up for themselves like Jessica. Between the language barriers, fear of authority and the bureaucracy that catches people, most folks end up being deported or being held for long periods of time without being able to contact family members.

The story and comic was put together by Reporter Ryan Schill and artist Greg Scott. If you get a chance, please do check out the comic. You can also read the spanish version here.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Benita Veliz: first undocumented immigrant to speak at democratic national convention

The fact that an undocumented immigrant addressed the DNC last night is a historical moment, even if all of mainstream media didn't air it or acknowledge it. That being said, the speech Benita made was just for show and tell. I'm sure given the circumstances, her speech was pre-written for her and composed entirely of messaging that only pushed the obama administration's messaging. That he's for immigration reform, that deferred action was something he decided to do and that he needs latino votes. We all know that's a completely lie.

Monday, September 03, 2012

On being real vs sell out

I love to people watch. As such, I notice behaviors, dynamics and the spaces folks share with one another. I can't remember a time when I haven't people watched, and part of me chalks it up to being a visual learner and my own personal processes to take in information. Point is, there is a social justice ecosystem that fascinates me to no end. I'm not trying to bust a Jane Goodall because I'm part of these spaces, but I can't not notice them, you know?

Having been around a few different spaces already and seeing all the different dynamics at work, I can't help get giddy when I can predict reactions or even actions from folks. Everyone plays their role in the ecosystem, for better or for worse, and in some chaotic way, balance is found. It truly is something of a wonder when it's seen in action, but if there's one thing that is always a constant in any kind of space, it's the issue of being 'real' and/or a 'sell out.'

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Movement Drama

Lawd it never stops. Part of me once believed that it was just something that only happened with in the undocumented student movement, but it seems that history is full of it. And just as the legacies of fighting for social justice are carried on by a younger generation, so does the drama. It's inevitable anyway you cut.

But it really shouldn't be a surprise to anyone in or outside the movement. Drama is a part of every day life and given the intensity of the work that is done, said drama also intensifies. We are only human beings. Of course there are different ways to go about dealing with it, but if there's one thing dreamers are known for, it's being passive aggressive over social media. Like a bunch of bickering children.

Now whether said drama comes about because folks are dating within the circles, specific people are highlighted over others, difference of opinions and/or strategies etc. it'll eventually come about. The fact that the movement itself is split up the way it is right now, United We Dream vs The NIYA vs everyone else vs non-profits vs anyone who dares nay say.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Who has access to resources & support networks when it comes down to DACA?

Part of me has been saying this since day one. If you have any questions about how Deferred Action is going to work, how to qualify, where to sign up etc. you'd start by going to the USCIS web site it self and looking up that info yourself. Facebook is just confusing folks more than anything, but the logic remains the same. If you want to find out information about something, look it up online.

But there in lies a problem that is only compounded once I started seeing a patter of questions folks have been asking since the DACA announcement. The majority of them were how does one qualify, where do you go to get the app, how much is it going to cost etc. Things what were answered at first and in further detail once the application was made public and further guidelines were made clear by USCIS.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Self Deportation Station

You gotta love the folks over at Funny or die. They hit the nail on the head with their videos and this latest one about a "Self Deportation Station" is on point. They're clowning Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and it's def. worth a watch and good laugh.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Step by step for applying for DACA

For anyone applying for Deferred Action, read through the step by step guide that Educators for Fair Consideration have created. The guide, which can be found here, and it provides an excellent breakdown on the process and helps answers numerous questions that most folks have when starting to fill out their application.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival Applications

There are the forms needed to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. With that being said, Educators for Fair Consideration have an amazing step by step guide to helps folks as they apply for this process.

If you're reading this and thinking of applying, do so with time and ease. USCIS is only going to give folks a one time shot at applying, and if for whatever reason, your application doesn't go through, there won't be any second chances or appeals.

Remember to only trust attorneys that are recommended to you by trust worthy people. Don't pay for these services without seeing if you can do it for free, and if you do have to pay, be sure to keep track of everything. Forms after the jump.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Just providing a service

The majority of folks just want help getting theirs, which I can understand. Within the circles I'm in doing this kind of work, all across the board, most of the non-profits are gearing up to help folks with their applications. Some are charging to cover the over head cost and others are totally doing it for free. What remains to be seen is where things will fall after the elections and once the first wave of folks apply and get through. It's all new territory and anything can and will happen.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Lawyers Grifting Deferred Action

To be honest, I never really gave much thought on all the fucking shark lawyers and notaries were  coming outta the woodwork when the Deferred Action announcement was made. Folks were being warned left and right that they shouldn't be paying anyone to help them fill out an application that is yet to exist. That getting help from these asses could end up hurting someone in the long run.

Well now that I'm seeing more and more of these charlatans pop up everywhere, I found this Benouis firm on a facebook ad, and it really pisses me off. Like, to the point that I'm just going about my normal internet browsing and I see these fuckers trying to post up their shit on group pages and what not. They all have some stupid name that throws the words "Dream Act" and "deferred action" in there to get anyones attention.

All of this stuff hasn't really hit yet, but seeing all these putos trying to make money got the ball rolling. But that just goes to show you that I wasn't ready for everything that is to come. Because of the personal investment I have in all this work, just like all the other dreamers, it catches you off guard and you wanna make sure that no one gets taken advantage of. We've all heard countless stories of lawyers and notaries robbing people outta thousands of dollars and never helping them or just making things worse.

It can't be helped. There's approximately 1 one million plus dreamers that are going to be applying and going through this system. Not all of us have access to resources, connections or support to get the paper work done, cover the application fees and get help in case things take a turn for the worse. There are going to be folks who are going to get robbed and who are going to end up getting into deeper problems because they got grifted. And I can't help feel some responsibility for that.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Foot in mouth

I ain't gonna lie, I'm a hater, straight up. Why do I hate instead to congratulate? If the answer was only that simple, I wouldn't be putting my foot in mouth every other day. Take for example the screen grab from earlier today on facebook. It was from Chirla's page, read it and then come back to this, that's the only way things will make sense. 

As you can see, Karla has a point. Instead of trying to help someone out, the first thing I do is try to push them down even further. This isn't an isolated incident and it certainly won't be the last either. I'm not defending or taking back back what I wrote on that post, I still think the person who called themselves a wetback is still an idiot. 

That being said, for those of you who don't know, that's a word I first used myself when I first started this blog. "American Wetback" was the first tittle I had when I started blogging about being undoc and what that meant for me. That was back in 2006. I ended up changing the name of the blog to what it is now a year or so later, but after I made that comment, I remembered what I did half way into taking a shower. 

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Details on Deferred Action Guidelines

Click to Embiggen 

Seems everyone is getting into flow charts and visuals as of late with all the deferred action stuff. Don't get me wrong, I love it since I'm a visual learner myself. Anyway, Deferred Action, USCIS and the announcement made today about the guidelines. This is the announcement everyone was waiting for, the nitty gritty details on qualifying for deferred action and work permits.

Even some of my concerns were answered with this newest update, but, bottom line is that deferred action is not a law. It's not mandated by anyone to the point of everyone in the government having to comply, at its core, it's still up to the discretion of the individuals on the ground, doing the paper work, bossing those that do the paper work etc.

Deferred Action only benefits "good immigrants' who don't have any kind of criminal record, are staying outta trouble by staying in school and aren't on the radar of ICE. This means that most dreamers are going to qualify for this, but it still leaves out folks who are too old or those of use who had run ins with the law, along with our parents.

At best, whoever comes after Obama, they can decide to end it or keep. Ultimately, nothing has changed but everything has, you feel me? But don't get it twisted, I'll be getting my work permit and paying my $500 just like everyone else. And in true fashion, mainstream media has decided to focus on the cost of the permit and spinning it to look like anyone who is undoc can get a work permit for $500.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Checking myself, before I wreck myself

You know how sometimes you say the quite part loud and the loud part quietly? Well for me it's like that the majority of the time and while I have been actively working on not drinking hater-aid, I get annoyed with constantly having to check myself before I wreck myself. Annoyed is putting it nicely, I'm down right fed up with having to mentally check myself all the motha fucking time.

I'm connected to too many things all at the same time, and I've noticed more and more when I reach my thresh hold of information consumption cause all I wanna do is comment or reply some stupid smart ass remark to postings on facebook or observations in conversations.

I remember a time when I use to say all sorts of stupid shit and no one would care, but seeing as how I'm some sort of public figure, I can't be really saying what I'm thinking. Much like a politician, I just gotta say what others wanna hear and keep the real me in check because the id isn't suppose to run wild like that. It's a delicate balance that I have yet to find, and it's gonna take a lot more work to get there.

But at the same time, I am making progress. I do keep shit to myself and in my mind now rather than throwing it out there and taking a swig of hater-aid. It guess it says more about me that I need to work on this, than it does on the people and things I wanna hate on. I'm sure there's some proverb that would could describe this a lot better, but I can't think of one right now. So.... wax on, wax off.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

So, I was in Cincinnati for a few days

And I had a blast. What follows is a 'look what I did on my vacation' style photo blog post. You have been warned. And yes, I consider going to Ohio a vacation because I didn't have to pay for airfare or a hotel room the entire time I was there and I got to get away from LA and work for a week.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Reflections on Birth

It's that time of year again, when you realize you have survived another year around the sun and things you never paid attention to suddenly become big deals. It's my dethday this Sunday and the obligatory blog post in which I reflect on the last year must be done. [I'm turning 28] So what have I realized in the last year? Well, a lot actually. And while I can rant on endlessly on said realizations, I won't. In fact, I'ma try and keep it as simple as possible by saying thanks to all the folks that I have in my life.

For as long as I can remember, I've always seen my born day as as a day of damn nation. The day in which I was brought to this earth without my consent. The day in which I question the life I live and ask why me? I don't do that anymore, as much anyway. I've gotten some of that existential, bleeding heart, poor little me my life is so horrible thinking outta my mind. Took me a while there, but better late than never I always say.

While I can't point to a single moment in which I stopped feeling sorry about myself and decided to turn things around, but rather more of a culmination and realization of the people around me that made me change my thinking. I'm truly lucky and blessed to have the people that I have around me. Through them I continue to grow as an individual and as a person in this world.

I've learned to invest my time and energy in the folks that I know are making that same kind of investment in me. I realized that I don't need to be friends with everyone, sometimes just not hating or disliking someone is as good as it'll get. And then there are those folks who I would bend over backwards to help no matter what. If I've learned anything within the last year, it's that I am blessed to have friends that are family. To them I say, thank you :) 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

500 post later

I'm still here typing things away, and to think that all of this started on myspace back in October of 2004. It'll be 8 years now that I have been blogging about my life and sharing thoughts on things. What started out as a venture to put my face out there, as an undocumented immigrant living in the US, turned into something completely different once I became involved in the dream act movement in the fall of 2007.

I've come a long way in many aspects, some still need more maturing, but for the better part I can say that while I'm not where I'd like to be, at least I'm not where I use to be. And even I don't where the hell I'm going to end up, but it's all good in the neighborhood. I'm getting older and I love it. While my relationship with my family isn't at its best, working on that, the relationships I do have with friends has become stronger than ever.

Chances are I'll still be typing away here for another 500 blog post and as per usual, I'll be talking about whatever it is that I'm going through or thinking about. This is my space to share and reflect on what I choose to share and as such, being public a bout such things does lend itself to public scrutiny, but that's a given in this digital age.

Chances are I'll still be throwing rocks that I shouldn't, like that Jose Vargas thing, but I'm also working on not drinking so much hater'aid as well, but we're all a work in progress. So, whether you've been following me since day one or have just found my blog, know that I won't ever let this space die or fade away. I've seen too many other blogs just fade away into nothingness. So, here's to another 500 blog post about whatever it is I'm going through in life.


Erick Huerta

Thursday, July 05, 2012

I don't like Jose Antonio Vargas

Why? I've actually been trying to figure that out myself the more I talk to folks about it. Fact of the matter is that I've had numerous conversations amongst friends in the social justice circles about why I don't like Jose Antonio Vargas. As someone who is also undocumented, most folks assume that I have nothing but praise and adornment for him because he came out publicly about his status for the first time in the New York Times.

On the contrary, when I read that article, the last things that were on my mind were thoughts of him being a hero to the undoc movement and/or brave for deciding to come out so publicly, but there in lies the root of his multifaceted announcement to the world and my own roots in why I don't like him.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Lying to protect truth

It would seem so now, more than ever, that lying to protect certain truths, ideals and movements has become the norm. Rather, I'm become aware of this more so, I'm pretty sure folks have been lying long before I came around. But it has to be done, right? This is something that I've been chewing on in my mind since the Obama deferred action announcement. But really, this has been something that I have been coming to terms with for quite sometime now.

And while I still don't have a complete or definite understanding of the why's and how's of things, I do understand that I have to keep my mouth shut. That is a path that I've needed to master in order to do what I do and know what I know. Nothing 007, rather petty stuff actually, but important enough for me to know because of the waters I traverse, which will determine which paths are available to me in the future.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

On fears of being an alcoholic

I started drinking about 3 years ago. The fear of being a wife beating alcoholic like my father put me off on drinking beer that tasted like yellow water or liquor that burned my throat. But eventually I came around and I rather enjoy a good drink once in a while. While I still hate all the name brand beers, I know what I like and how much I can drink.

I've puked a couple of times, had 'do you know what you did last night' moments and amassed quite a beer belly, but alcoholic I am not. I figured that I made a big deal outta what I saw booze do to my dad, specially after I went through my own experiences with booze.

Ironically, I'm a happy kind of drunk. I love to dance, tell stupid jokes and just act a fool all around, but never to the point of crossing a line. At the same time, the folks I surround myself only compliment said dancing and happiness because they're the same way. We don't drink to get sad and cry, we do it to have fun responsibly, enjoy each others company or just have real conversations about what's going on in our lives.

I'm conscious of how and when I drink because I know what can happen. I've never used booze an excuse to try to sleep with a girl, do/say something stupid or anything of the sorts. If anything, I hold myself more responsible because I know others do use that as an excuse. Besides, I'm not one for going out every weekend. I'd much rather have some scotch or a nice dark beer after a good days work to just chill and kick back with friends. It all comes down to the individual and whether they can handle their booze or not. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Conf Call to answer questions RE: Deferred Action

Educators for Fair Consideration is hosting a national conference call this Thursday, June 21st, at 5 pm to answer questions from folks. E4FC is an amazing organization that already helps dreamers with free legal advice and clinics and in stopping deportations. If you have any questions, RSVP and have them answered by an immigration lawyer, don't go spending your money some where else and possibly get the wrong info.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Qualification guidelines for deferred action

With the announcement of Deferred Action, a lot of folks have been, including myself, have been wondering what the guidelines are going to be for both qualifying and applying. That being said, NO ONE SHOULD BE PAYING A LAWYER, NOTARY OR ANYONE FOR ANY KIND OF HELP OR INFORMATION YET. Once USCIS creates the application process for deferred action and work permits, that's when folks can go to trusted immigration lawyers, if they need it. For the time being USCIS has posted up Frequently Asked questions, which I have copied and pasted after the jump. I'll be sharing more info on this as things come along.

Undocumented & Permitted

If you haven't heard the news by now, on Friday June 15th the Obama administration announced that there will be new deferred action for immigrant youth who more or less fall under the umbrella of the Federal Dream Act. If you wanna read about the specifics on who and how one qualifies, follow this link to the DHS press release. As soon as the announcement was made, folks started going nuts over the news, and why shouldn't they.

I got the news myself via tweets at seven am about the announcement, I was on my way home on the bus cause I had a few drinks the night before and crashed at a friends house. At the same time, there was an action already planned for that morning at the Metropolitan Detention Center on Alameda, so things were moving fast. Not to mention that earlier this week that movie I was a part of premiered, Time magazine put out their latest issue with Dreamers and Jose Antonia Vargas on the cover, the dream movement was getting mad attention. Media was hunting us down all day for interviews, pictures, interviews etc. to get our reaction on what happened. I even ended up on live radio while the action at the detention center was still going on.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Everyday reminders

It wasn't until my friend Nancy pointed out something that was right in our faces that I took notice. Here in LA, the Metro Gold Line route passes right in front of the Metropolitan Detention Center. A few blocks away from Union Station and from the Twin Towers jail. Whether it was being able to see the detention center from the window of the train or passing by on by/car, it serves not only as a reminder of where I could end up, but where others who get caught up in the system do end up.

That's why when Nancy noticed that you can see the folks inside through the windows, it took the mind fuck to another level. Seeing the faces and hands hanging on the bars, looking out the window, it's some intense stuff. And it's even sadder to say that no one ever really notices this. Everyone is listening to music or reading a book, going on about their day on the train, never really noticing those who are imprisoned. For both Nancy and I, it's a daily reminder of why we do what we do. So no one has to end up there, locked up and stripped of your humanity.

is one that has a long history as working class families from the eastside commute west

Monday, June 11, 2012

Thoughts on Limbo video project

Limbo: New film that has me in it

Remember last year when I mentioned that I hooked up with some guys making a movie that involved me filming my everyday life ala Mr. Brainwash? Well the film is finally online and waiting for you to see it. Here's the info: 'After winning the 25k Grant from the Vimeo Awards, Director Eliot Rausch partnered with Producer Mark Schwartz and the Dreamers of Los Angeles to create LIMBO. This 19 minute film exposes the lives of 3 undocumented students, living in the US without legal status. Never having touched a camera, the 3 students were gifted with a small handycam and trained for half a day by Lukas Korver and Matt B. Taylor. They were asked to film everyday for 3 months. Through their lens, this is their story.' Check out the video of Eliot talking about his work and the project.

The film went live today and now vimeo, the director and everyone involved in it are putting it out there so folks can see it. Of course, I'm posting it everywhere and emailing folks to not only check out the vid, but to share it as well. For now, ya'll can do the same. I was planning on sharing what I thought about the whole process now that it's come full circle, but I'm gonna sleep on it for a bit and come back to it.


Friday, June 08, 2012

On being a hater

I'm catching myself hatin' on others more and more often. It's something that has been lingering on my mind and now that I'm catching myself as I do it and seeing others do it as well, it's leading to a whole lotta thinking and reflecting on why I find myself hatin' on others. The times I've caught myself doing it, I've reflected on the situation and what was going on around me.

Majority of time, I find myself hatin' on those who I believe haven't suffered, struggled or worked hard enough in their lives. I'll meet someone and before I get to know the person, I'll judge them and make a sort of analysis of how they are as a person. Genius right? Nothing like assuming things about others.

I've noticed that when this does happen, I use it as a way of knowing how and what I can talk to the person about and how I can go about it as well. More often than not, I'll meet someone who I think has their nose stuck up somewhere, check out their style and go from there. It works most of the time, most of the time. I have been wrong before and that is only in getting to know the person that things have change. Other times, my assumptions about said person are confirmed.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Repository of resources for undocumented students

You know the first thing I noticed when I saw the cover for the newly released College Board guide: Repository of Resources for undocumented students ? That awkward ass picture of the two guys on the cover. I'm looking at them and I'm like, what's with the trimmed eye brows and tennis ball like hair cuts? I mean, this kind of 'image' is better than having 3 latino/a kids on the cover who perpetuate the stereotype that all immigrants are from Mexico, but beggars can't be choosers I suppose.

Anyway, the newly released guide collects and list scholarships, undocu-friendly student orgs/spaces in California, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin. These are all states that have instate tuition laws for undoc students and the author of the guide, Alejandra Rincón, does a great job of copying and pasting website information to state specific args, orgs, text of tuition laws etc.

While there are other guides like this floating around already, there can never be too many, except when it comes to scholarship resources, that pool is getting smaller and smaller the more and more students learn about them and apply to them. But then again that just means that more scholarships needs to be made right? The guides value really comes in that she collected a good deal of resources from all the diff states, which is something that hasn't really been done before. That and the fact that it was done with the COllege Board, which will mean a greater number of teachers, administrators, counselors and students will have access to it and that means more undoc immigrants going to college. Good times.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Undocumented and Unafraid: Tam Tran, Cinthya Felix, and the immigrant youth movement book review

Undocumented and Unafraid: Tam Tran, Cinthya Felix, and the immigrant youth movement elegantly captures some of the personal stories and accounts as experienced by those in the Dream Act and undocumented student movement. From the first civil disobedience action by undoc immigrant youth in Arizona, the coining of 'undocumented and unafraid,' to sharing the unprecedented influence Tam and Cinthya left behind, the book captures a rare view of how multifaceted this young movement is.  

Following up on the work first started in the 2008 book, 'underground undergrads,' which featured the stories of different undocumented UCLA students and their personal struggles back when the movement was still growing, UU2 adds to the legacy that this movement is carving as it continues to grow, develop and come into its own. While I never did fully read the entire first book, knowing the folks who put it together, reading parts of it here and there and seeing how it was used as a teaching tool, it's safe to say that this second book directly shows how much progress has been made with in the last few years.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Matricula vs Passport

The other day, my cousin sent me a text asking me whether one had to make an appointment at the Mexican Consulate to get your Matricula I.D. I told him I wouldn't know anymore, all I get is the passport, I don't bother with the matricula anymore. When I told him that, he took it as a sign of me being ashamed of being Mexican. He tried putting me on blast by telling me that I'd rather carry an over sized passport vs the ID because it makes it look like I came here legally. My reply to him was to let me know how things work out next time the cops pull him over and he shows his matricula.

Anywho, One has to make an appointment to get the passport, but in reality, it's pointless because you're still waiting in long lines going from one window to another. What they're really doing is just making folks make appointments so they can wait in line at different times, a sort of reverse fast pass if you will. So what the difference between a matricula and a passport? Lemme break it down for ya.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Undocumented Kitties

As dumb as this seems, it's just as hilarious. Found them through facebook and they're from the talented Rio Yañez. I've seen his/her (?) art before through a friend and have always been a fan. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My 'undocumented' online presence

Facebook map of where I have been
The irony of being undocumented in this country but having an online presence doesn't escape me. There was a time in life in which I was terrified of being discovered by ICE, police etc. because of my status. I would blog and share my stuff with more of an anonymous tone to it. But now adays, I can't go a day without updating/checking my facebook or twitter accounts, checking into four square or making my digital presence known. Funny how things works like that right?

For the longest time I would hate on folks who used instagram, four square etc. mostly because that shit can get annoying sometimes. A case of over sharing really, which is something that has only come about with so many folks having internet through their phones. For a few years, that was my only form of internet use since I didn't have a computer, but with so many apps and games now, it's getting ridiculous.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Two years later: Tam and Cinthya

I never got to know them as much as others did. Just hearing about the kind of persons they are from friends and family is enough for me to know that they're amazing women with out a doubt. It was watching Tam on youtube that I first heard someone share their story. She talked about being stateless, the stuff undoc students/immigrants have to face etc. It blew my mind back then because unbeknownst to me, organizations and groups were forming all over the country. Dreamers coming together to carve their niche in the road.

The movement is more or less 10 yrs old now and things continue to constantly change. Tam and Cinthya  were leaders both in that they're first generation dreamers that paved the ways for others and that they knew how important it was for undoc students to fight for their rights and put themselves in the lime light. Back then it was a huge deal, but today it's getting to the point of parody, to me anyway, it's different for everyone.

I've also been reading the new book that came out on them, "Undocumented and Unafraid: Tam Tran and Cinthya Felix and the immigrant youth movement". Reading all the essays and memories friends have shared in the book really hit the heart. Considering how crazy things were in my life and in the movement two years ago, it's kinda surprising to see both myself and the movement still going strong, different, but still going. But one thing is for sure, it would have never got to where it's at without Tam and Cinthya.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

On updating the blog & myself

Been moving around the last days/weeks or so and I'm just starting to get settled in again with things. For one, I moved !! Where to? I'll let folks figure that out on their own eventually. But things just weren't working out where I was before and after a year, I pretty much wore out my welcome. Which happens often to me so much so, that I can read the signs and passive aggressive actions/comments as my cue to get outta there. And like a tumbling leaf in the wind, I find myself relocating yet again.

I paused for a minute thinking about how I've been living this way, crashing from one place to another, since 07 and I got to thinking as to how long am I going to keep living this way. I'm turning 28 this summer and that those questions of 'what are you doing with your life' keep creeping on you.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

What I remember versus Google Maps

View Larger Map

As it stands, when I share my story about how I got to the US, I go with what I've always know. That we were living at my great grandmas ranch in La Huacana, Michoacan Mexico. My aunt and uncle drove me across the border by me pretending to be my cousin, who was also seven yrs old and a US citizen. Anyway, way I tell the story is that I went to slept in the car ride in Michoacan and I woke up in Boyle Heights.

Ok, so not too long ago, someone on facebook mentioned to me that I had my story all wrong. That it doesn't take one night to get from Michoacan to Boyle Heights. The person felt kinda bad telling me this cause this is how I share my story. Pero, they are right. If you look at the google map above, it would have taken about two days to get there. Now I'm thinking that we were getting ready to make the trip, my family must have met my aunt and uncle half way through. I can't really remember that far back, and I could just ask my mom what happened, but I like having a little mystery in my story. That way it';; stay relavent.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Video tutorial on completing the CA Dream Act application

This is pretty self explanatory. The following link is to a video presentation by Bryan Dickason of the California Student Aid Commission on how to complete the CA Dream Act application. Ive' already shared a guide that answers questions and links to find the application, so this is just supplemental info to all that stuff. The video is in English and in Spanish, so I hope folks share it far and wide.

What I think vs What I say vs What I do

Last couple of weeks have been put me in a pensive mode, more so than usual. To add to that, I've been catching up on some comics that have also added not only to me being pensive, but just making me think over all. Reading Spider-man: Blue made me feel, well blue. It's a tear jerker for sure and aside from making me dream some weird stuff I can't remember, it just added to the over all ambiguity I'm feeling as of late. The repeating pattern that is my life and being reminded that it has no point. I hate it because I just start questioning things, thinking about the future and making needless comparisons to things and/or others.

I find myself in repetitive moments in which I'm having an ongoing conversation that has lasted six years. I'll run into someone I haven't seen in a while, they ask what I'm doing and I tell them that I'm still at ELAC still trying to transfer outta there. Still trying to make ends meat any way I can working here and there and still doing dream act stuff. Same old song and dance but just a different night and outfit. It fucking depresses the shit outta me sometimes and yet I let it go on. I play my part in the charade by going through the motions. Pantomiming my life away as I do nothing but complain and criticize things as I see them through my narrow and limited view.

Friday, April 27, 2012


Dreamers Adrift bring you, yet another hilarious video that pokes fun at the life of undocumented folks. It's not exactly an undocumented and awkward episode, but it's still just as hilarious. The tittle speaks for itself, but if you ever wondered how we live, watch the video and check it out.

That being said, I also make my dreamers adrift debut as well. See, what had happened was that the guys at dreamers adrift wanted to film that day, and they invited me and a few others folks to make it happen. We went over to someone's house and as he was showing us around his place, Nancy blurts out, 'this is your undocucrib' and from that idea, we decided to shoot the idea. It was pretty random and spontaneous, but that's how some of the best ideas come about. Had an amazing time kicking it w/ the dreamers adrift that day. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Step by step breakdown on completing the CA Dream Act Application

The California Student Aid Commission has created a step by step guide to help AB 540 Students fill out the CA Dream Act application, which is now available. The guide helps dreamers and parents answer any questions they may have about requirements to qualify, the different options available and how to apply to the different services offered. You can download the guide by clicking here. Please share with your networks as students will be able to apply to Cal Grants and the Governors fee waiver starting in 2013. I already had someone ask me about filling out the application and I'm like, 'uhhh just leave it blank and you can add it later.'

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The case of Astasio Hernandez Rojas' death

In 2010, Anastasio Hernandez-Rojas was being deported to Mexico, but he never made because of the violent and brutal beating he received at the hands of ICE officers. His death isn't the only one at the hands of jar-head ICE officers, but because of multiple videos from folks who there that night, his is one that has been public on both sides of the border.

There's an ongoing campaign right now to get the Department of Justice to do a full investigation on Anastasio's case and the numerous others that have happened since 2010. I wasn't up to speed on everything that had been going on, but I am aware of the violence and abuse border officers cause. Watching some of the video on the PBS segment can't help but make you pissed off at what happened. Abuse and brutality from idiots in positions of authority isn't anything new, it's a way of life for people of color, but it still doesn't change the fact that Anastasio was straight up beat.

Then the fuckers had the nerve to make some shit up on paper, knowing full well they'll get away with it scot free because of the bureaucracy of the system. That's some bullshit right there I tell you what. And while signing a petition or sharing the video or like me, blogging about it, can only do so much, I know that the officers that murdered Anastasio and others will get what they sowed before they leave this world.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Know your rights video for people in immigrant detention centers

"The American Bar Association Commission on Immigration has produced an updated version of 'Know Your Rights,' an educational video for the more than 400,000 men and women held in immigration detention facilities across the country each year."

With that being said, check out the 40 min video, that I gave up on watching after 5, that breaks down the process of being an immigrant in removal proceedings. The video falls on deaf ears in numerous ways. First of all, it's in English which most folks won't be able to understand completely, it's only available online [but they are working on making the video available at the more than 250 detention centers in the US] and if you are watching the video inside a detention center, chances are things aren't gonna get any better.

But don't get me wrong, the video is a great resource that should be shared, but my focus would be in having folks know their rights before even getting close to being in a detention center. Knowing how to talk to cops, agents and authority figures can do wonders in getting yourself outta stops or questioning.