Glo Harn Choi
“In ‘96 my family came to Chicago to study, but their plans changed suddenly when my sister was diagnosed with severe autism. The choice was clear. To stay in the U.S. for a better life for her. They tried for over 10 years to change their status, but their employers repeatedly took advantage of them—promising a sponsorship that never came. There was no other choice, but to stay here, for her.
Years passed and eventually, so did our status.
I’ve lived here my entire life, calling this place home. And without a pathway to citizenship, I fear being separated from my family, from my friends, and my community. I fear I won’t be able to participate fully in society. This system is broken. Millions of people just like me want nothing more than to have the freedom to pursue their own dreams, to live and to love in peace. I march for my sister, for my parents, and for all who deserve justice. I march because these problems aren’t solved alone, but in community.”
Jung Woo Kim
“I was not able to go to the hospital to get treatment when I broke my ribs because I couldn’t get health insurance. I was not allowed to get a drivers license or travel by plane. Before DACA, I was not allowed to get a state identification card to prove to others that I exist because I was not allowed to have any sort of government ID. I was not allowed to buy medicine I needed from the pharmacy.”
“Last September 5, when DACA was rescinded, I went to the lawyer at school and I said, ‘What do I have to do to keep my family together?’. The first thing he says is, ‘Well, you can always marry a citizen’. You know what? I’m so so so sick of hiding and I’ve done it all my life, but it never gave me the result that I wanted. So I will not rely on a man to give me my independence.”
“My grandma had dementia and she couldn’t get the healthcare she needed in the U.S. because she was undocumented. She had no choice but to fly back to South Korea with my aunt to live the life she deserved. I keep thinking about it lately because she raised and cared for me since I was born, and I go home to New Jersey every once in a while, and she’s not there. Our memories are still alive, but her actual presence cannot be felt. I miss her a lot. The longer we are apart, the more I yearn for her to be in my life. I don’t know the next time I’ll see her again, but I remain hopeful that I can.”
“My name is Evelyn Venegas. I am Ecuadorian, and proud to be South American. I have been undocumented for most of my life. The fact that I am here before you, is not without a whole family and community that has nurtured, supported, and believed in me.
My parents crossed many borders for a dream to move out of poverty, to create a better future for their family. They believed in the land of opportunity, something they only imagined, their arrival was not guaranteed. It moved them from one continent to another. I am proud to be South American, indigenous person. I look back to my family. They are the original producers of dreams. They made their voyage and planted their roots here.
My parents migrated when I was 3 months old, and they were able to bring me here when I was 3 years old. I may not have been born here, but no one can tell you more about Chicago than me. Chicago is my home and I’m committed to making it better for everyone. Growing up in Irving Park, I remember the neighborhood kids running and playing up and down the streets, the loud block parties, and all of the different languages spoken on a block. Today, Chicago seems less welcoming to people who look like me. Small, family run businesses are closed. There are no kids. There’s mostly dogs now.
Gentrification has changed the neighborhood. Rents go up. Fathers and mothers are being deported. Our neighborhood is heavily policed. The targets of this are people of color. I now live in La Villita, and there are transportation access issues. Families fear I.C.E. because they’re present in the community. Sometimes La Villita looks abandoned after news of a detainee. Northside or Southside, our communities live in fear and in worry.
Both my parents work two jobs to help me pay for college, while the government created a rhetoric that the immigration crisis was their fault. They called me a DREAMer, gave me DACA, and offered my parents no protection.
My education was not easy. It took longer to graduate because I had to work three jobs to pay for one year of college. To be a child of undocumented immigrants in this country is to live in a constant reminder that you’re perceived as “the other”, but my parents’ pain is not one that I will ever be able to cope with. Our communities are in constant pain, in constant fear, and in ongoing need. A key part of my journey has been being rooted in my ancestors. I’m grounded in that my ancestors were strong, resilient, and determined. My family is indigenous, Incan, the cholas cuencanas from the Andes, they are strong, resilient and determined people. This is where I come from. My people have survived poverty, disenfranchisement from their own government, families that have close to nothing are still willing to do anything to make sure their family survives. They bet it all on coming to this country, and that includes leaving everything to come to this country for a better future. I know my family did.
I live in gratitude of all the generations before us. That with their lucha—resistance and hard work—were able to secure our existence. If you’re undocumented or a part of a mixed status family or are currently in proceedings, may safety always find you and may you always find peace, even through this turmoil.
Please remember: you are enough. Regardless of what this country says. We are more than our status. We represent dreams and we are fighting for our dignity.”
“Being an immigrant, we face invisible walls. These walls impede us regardless of our gender, sexuality, how we dress, how we talk, and our skin color. I struggle against these walls to find education, jobs, health care, and happiness. But some of us are deported for civil crimes and face 20 years along the way to return to their home and family.
An insurmountable wall.
We march in unity against injustice. We march to tear down these insurmountable walls. Join us at homeishere.org.”