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    Spring backward. #photoaday #flowerstagram #firstdayofspring #spring #lastofwinter ❄️❤️ So yesterday, I ran a poetry workshop at a middle school and hearing the words from these youth, I feel a lot better about the world. One boy wrote a poem & was very shy about reading it. I offered to read it for him. To my surprise, he wrote about people wanting freedom and not being “illegal.” I hope he finds the courage some day to read the poem because these days, hate voices itself louder than love. Our kids deserve better role models. I didn’t grow up thinking about my immigration status, but I think many children have to now. 💔I’m at a very low point in my hope bank. I’m taking notes on how to say goodbye to a country. I think one way is love and one way is poetry.
#loveislouder #happyworldpoetryday This Sunday I made it to church at a Unitarian Universalist congregation. I arrived as a panelist for an immigration and human rights discussion. My audience was majority White. I started with a poem and then my college journey narrative. It is a heavy feeling to be a person who potentially faces deportation or undocumented status and to stand in front of an audience that though sympathetic, cannot imagine what your world is like. They listened to me and the other panelists very actively. One of the panelists, Klara Bilgin, showed us this poster-size cover of Time magazine’s March issue with her own addition “Why America?” At the end I was surprised that most people had comments rather than questions. When we say immigration is a controversial issue or a “hot topic,” it’s true. I got to see it today by people commenting on their experience traveling abroad without borders or their observations of how much labor is expected of undocumented immigrants. Many of them were proposing solutions. I wish Congress were as productive as these people were in their 15 or so minutes to comment and ask questions. #rageatCongress #votesmart #speakup Little sister poem. Be woke.❤️ #ajamonet #poem
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Immigrant Me: How It Feels When You Say I’ll Be Okay

Last night, the Senate passed a short-term budget extension, failing young immigrants for the third consecutive time within a one month period. Congress and Americans must hold themselves accountable, especially the every day American.

Up to 86% of Americans support Dreamers. But how many are calling and writing to Congress? So much of organizing work, on campuses and on the state level, is done by directly impacted people. United We Dream (UWD), for example, is regularly canvasing the halls of Congress, and their volunteer base is majority undocumented and DACA-mented youth.
When people say “you’ll be okay, just wait until the next President,” know you are not comforting anyone. I need more from you. I need your support with everything you’ve got.
Don’t say things will be okay; show me what you’re doing to make things okay for immigrants.

Mural on Upshur St, Washington DC

This means naming the Congress members that represent you.

 This means regular phone calls to Congress, and regular mail and email–demanding Congress to represent you. This means positives comments on the social media of spaces like NAKASEC, UWD, FWD.us, (CAP) Center for the American Progress. This means donating to the cause or showing up at actions.
And if you can’t get behind that? Stay informed and inform those around you. A great resource for updates is Informed Immigrant, which also includes a list of state organizations doing the important work of protecting immigrants.
For about a decade, I grew up in the U.S. without knowing that one day it could kick me out. I didn’t call myself immigrant. I called myself Claudia. I called myself girl. I called myself daughter. I called myself dreamer. You’d think I would figure things out after regular visits to take biometrics, but that was another “adult thing to do.”
At 17 years old, it dawned on me that Temporary Protected Status (TPS) had a say in my goals. TPS meant that I, along with 200,000 El Salvadorans, were vulnerable. For years afterwards, I felt guilt whenever TPS was renewed for El Salvador. It meant El Salvador was determined unsafe, but it also meant I could stay in the U.S. for another 18 months.
I owe my 17 years of living in the U.S. to the instability in my country of birth. Its high femicide rates, gang violence, and crumbling economy. Some say the country’s state is due to a U.S. funded civil war, so maybe, I owe those 17 years to America.
When DACA came into the picture in 2012, I wondered if that was the program for me: young, college-bound, model citizen. I wondered if DACA could make me less “temporary.” DACA work permits last two years. DACA was an essential program for 800,000 Dreamers, that is until President Trump ended it last year.
Now TPS is under attack and still, no pathway to permanent residency or citizenship is in sight. I am so, so tired of living out my life temporarily; my community has done it for nearly two decades. I have 18 months in the U.S., and that’s either enough time to pack and stomach the ache in my heart, or enough time for people and Congress to react.


Claudia Rojas is poeta. She’s also a TPS (Temporary Protected Status) holder. TPS protects individuals fleeing natural disaster and war on a temporary basis. The program has been extended for many years; no permanent solution has ever been presented. Currently, the countries of Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, and El Salvador have lost TPS and lives are at risk should Congress or America fail us. Call your member of Congress today through the FWD.us tool or find your representative’s info online. 


How To Help Young Immigrants In Addition to Prayer & Hope

Due to the current administration’s attitude toward immigrants and the fact that I’m an intern for an immigration reform organization, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to be vocal about immigration.

I started Claudia Documented in 2012.

Immigration- TPS - DACA

A postcard to my representative

I was seventeen years old and was halfway through my first year of college. I had lived in a kind of ignorant and blissful bubble. That year, I learned the full extent of holding a work permit. I was speaking with a financial aid counselor trying to explain Temporary Protected Status, the program that grants me a work permit.

I knew my document wasn’t called a visa or a green card. That’s how far my understanding went.

The financial aid counselor is the one that broke things down for me and pretty much broke my world.

I had known months into my first year of college that the school, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, was too expensive and that my merit scholarship wasn’t enough. As a first generation student, I also didn’t understand how tuition piled up. I imagined my mother and I, if I continued with my job and applied to scholarships, would be able to manage another year at the school.

In 2012, I learned why paying for school was getting so tough. Immigrants aren’t allowed financial aid and they’re ineligible for many scholarships. With that eye-opening moment, I began to see limits in my world, limits I didn’t know existed for me. It meant that I would not be able to wear those “I voted” stickers, yet alone, vote in elections. I’ve missed two presidential elections since turning 18. For a few years, I was also not able to have access to healthcare. Traveling abroad, low-income and immigrant, was also off my list.

It’s been over five years since that moment, and I haven’t been able to change my legal status.

When I see comments on Facebook criticizing “young and smart” Dreamers for not being smart enough to fix their status, it enrages and disappoints me. There’s no pathway to permanent residency for DACA recipients or TPS recipients.


Postcards to our representatives, Culmore Junior Youth

The average age of a TPS holder is 43 years old. I’ve had TPS for so long, I didn’t think it made sense to change my “status” or more appropriate, “program,” to another uncertain program, DACA. Yet, I understand too well the struggles and fears of these young immigrants. If any of these young immigrants have been able to adjust their status it’s through complicated means:

  • U-visas, which means you have been the victim of abuse or a crime,
  • Employee-sponsored visa, which comes with the strain of offering product or ideas no other employee can, or
  • Marriage, which is a commitment that should be out of love, not out of fear

What can you do right now to help young immigrants?

  1. Get Informed – ask questions, follow the news, and connect with immigrant organizations
  2. Spread the Word – tell a friend, tell family, don’t stay quiet
  3. Meet the Demands – attend a protest, attend a rally, call and write congress
  4. Donate – these organizations run on volunteer power: National TPS Alliance, United We Dream, & NAKASEC
Tim Kaine at Speak Out for Dreamers

Introducing Tim Kaine at storytelling event, 12/04/2017, Photo: Alida Garcia

The hardest part on this list is meeting the demands. We all have busy schedules. It’s easy to hope. We do it all the time. Prayer, too, though meaningful, does not actively change the situation. I’ve been guilty of not meeting the demands, even though I’m personally affected. If meeting the demands is hard for you, and you are trying, I’m not going to lie. You and I are in a rough position, but the last thing we want is not to try.

If you, are bold and fearless, and meet the demands at every turn, continue. We need you.

What can you right now as you wrap up reading this article? If you haven’t, find your representative today. Next, share this article. If I have come away with one good thing about being an immigrant is that I understand the political system more and more every day.

If a businessman made it to the White House, what’s not to say you, dearest reader, can make it to the White House? Help an immigrant today and help the future.


Claudia Rojas is poeta. She’s also a TPS (Temporary Protected Status) holder. TPS protects individuals fleeing natural disaster and war on a temporary basis. The program has been extended for many years; no permanent solution has ever been presented. Currently, the countries of Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan have lost their TPS designation. El Salvador, Claudia’s country of origin, has 200,000 TPS holders whose lives are at risk should Congress or America fail us. Call your member of Congress today through the FWD.us tool or find your representative’s info online. We cannot delay.