OC's undocumented youth are planning to step out of the shadows tomorrow afternoon with a public event at Sasscer Park in SanTana. The Orange County Dream Team is participating in the local effort as part of a national week of action aimed at bringing personal stories and immigration statuses out of the darkness and into the light.
"Coming Out of the Shadows" is seen as an empowering move that yields
the potential to infuse humanity into the immigration debate. "In 2010,
Immigrant Youth Justice League organized an event in which
students made their immigration status public for the first time,"
Gerson Cortes, who identifies himself as an 'UndocuQueer' student, says of the national initiative's roots. "Soon,
organizations across the nation followed suit, and by March 2011,
stepping out of the shadows was pushed as a national action."
There will be an open mic format at the event. "We encourage members of the community to share their ideas in any form they see fitting," Cortes adds. Preceding that will be a vigil hosted in memory of Joaquin Luna, an 18-year old undocumented Texas teenager whose suicide late last year rippled through the undocumented youth community.
Illoheem, a local rapper and spoken word poet, was so effected by the news that he recorded a song that begins "My name is Joaquin Luna / I'm undocumented of course / This is my story / But it could really be yours." Part of the motivation for tomorrow's action is to dissolve feelings of isolation and construct a support network in its place.
As part of the overall effort, the OCDT also has uploaded a YouTube video of testimonies from young people in inviting allies, students and members of the community to join together at the Sasscer Park gathering from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. "There is a heavy burden placed in youth who have often times been
instructed since childhood to keep their status a secret. This secret
comes from fear, and as we develop our American identities, it grows to
be a shameful burden," says Cortes of the need for alleviation of such at a personal and political level.
"By staying in the shadows...the
movement also loses a
powerful story with which to change the public perception of