Documentation. The metric the United States government uses to determine a person’s rights within the U.S. Here is a story of a U alumna who has had first-hand experience.
Ciriac Alvarez Valle was born in Mexico and was five when she immigrated to Utah for better opportunities with her family. “I remember the kind of humiliation my parents faced and the kind of jobs they held to provide for the family and opportunities for my siblings and I,” said Alvarez Valle. Her parents’ sacrifice and high expectations of her is what influences her to follow her ambitions of higher education — something her parents were not able to do.
Alvarez Valle earned two Bachelor of Science degrees in Political Science and Sociology from the University of Utah on May 2017 with the help of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Only a few months after her graduation, the United States administration rescinded DACA. Having been given restricted rights to pursue her dreams, and then to have it all taken away again, refueled Alvarez Valle’s commitment to immigrant rights.
People support legal immigration without understanding everyone can’t migrate legally.
Since the rescission, Alvarez Valle has organized multiple petitions, vigils, phone banks, marches & rallies to get the attention of Utah Members of Congress. She has even taken her fight to Washington, D.C. several times to speak with Utah representatives to pass a clean Dream Act; a permanent solution for youth to earn their citizenship.
“People support legal immigration without understanding everyone can’t migrate legally. Even the notion of refugees, some people will never qualify as a refugee even if they meet the requirements, even if they are being persecuted. That’s why immigration is so complicated because it’s very exclusive to different groups of people.”
However, her fight is much larger than just rights for young people. Alvarez Valle is planning on attending graduate school soon and would like to continue her professional dreams of non-profit and human rights work, with her parents alongside her. “For me it’s not just about gaining citizenship for DACA recipients, even if the DREAM act passes I would still fight for the rest of the undocumented and immigrant community, such as my family and parents,” said Alvarez Valle.
Even if the DREAM act passes I would still fight for the rest of the undocumented and immigrant community, such as my family and parents.
Alvarez Valle urges everyone to continue calling their representatives to pass a legislation in favor of immigrant youth and families. Despite her continued fight, Alvarez Valle realizes that the rejection of a clean Dream Act is a real possibility. In case the legislation does not pass, Alvarez Valle wants her immigrant community to know they are beautiful and resilient and will get through this as well. Alvarez Valle would like her community to know that having citizenship would be great, but it does not erase the fact that they have always had inherent human rights.
“I have faith that whatever comes my way that there will always be a solution or a way to have the strength to confront it; to have the strength and to know what to do when It comes.”
Alvarez Valle uses poetry, spoken word, and writing as a form of self-care and to share her immigrant story. Below is a piece she wrote with her family in mind:
the kind of courage it takes
to cross borders
to leave what you know behind
all for the love
of your family and children
the heartbreak of losing
because home no longer provides
& the pain of uprooting
with grade school education
but with life lessons far beyond years
the bravery it takes
to step towards the unknown:
land, language, lifestyle
to reteach your tongue with foreign words
that feel bitter until they’re translated
the kind of selflessness one holds
when holding their head down
with wages less than they deserve
housekeepers who are scoffed at
the same ones who created
kept my hopes alive
and my tummy full
the kind of courage living
in the very breathe
of immigrants —
I call mamá y papa