"To not have to be anonymous and scared"

I hesitated for many months to share my story.  For 20 years I hid under false pretenses, I learned to be what I thought was a model ‘American,” and I lost myself in it.  Even though I am now an American citizen, scars remain from my time as an undocumented person.  

The email below was one of the most touching responses I received- there were many. This response brought me to tears and let me know I did the right thing in sharing ALL of my story- even the details about using fake papers to gain employment on Wall Street. 

I told Jose Torres-Don that I could post his email as anonymous, and his response was “I don’t mind my name being on it at all … I think that’s part of what we have been fighting for collectively … to not have to be anonymous and scared”.

I recently read the article on Elle about your immigration story and your journey to citizenship. It was amazing to read and I felt like through this article there was a collective scream — of joy and pain — let out by undocumented people. I wanted to reach out and say thanks for sharing. I could not read the article in one sitting … that was too hard because at several points tears just came falling. I know this country has done so much wrong to our families and, yet, here we are. I think it will take a while for me to really understand just how we can go through all these things and still not be defeated. We are definitely broken but not defeated. 

I’m also from TX and graduated from UT-Austin in 2010. Your story hit so close to home … from the sad and traumatic moments involving parents to small acts of rebellion/survival like getting a fake ssn (I always tell people I became a “citizen” outside the H-E-B near Rundberg in Austin haha). That snn got me a much needed job after college even if it was just at a gas station!

Me and older sister were very lucky to have been able to go to college under HB1403/SB1528 but as you know, that is a struggle all in its own. I loved that the article mentioned Linda Christofilis, btw. She is quite amazing and somehow always remembers HB1403 students! 

Being on the UT campus taught me a lot … while I was there we pushed for a resolution in support of the dream act. It passed through the student government but it was such a big struggle. I think I really regret it … mainly because at one point the debate became more about defending our humanity. No one should ever have to do that and especially not in a school to which we pay money. 

I think, though, some of the most important lessons for me have come after college and having to deal with being undocumented as an adult and having my parents and brothers and sisters not have any status. 

Last year I got DACA and now I am finally working legally. I have a job in DC and thinking about grad school. DACA has so many shortfalls but it is what so many of us needed. 

Anyway, I hope this finds you well. Again, thanks for sharing your story and if you come to the DC area give me shout … it would be awesome to chat and share stories. 

Best and Hook ’em, 

Jose