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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. 


1,000 miles: step 83


Issue 15 of Canadian magazine, Poetry is Dead

It’s been difficult to separate my personal life from the political world.

Every morning on my way to work, I’ve made it a habit to search for news articles about the future of TPS (Temporary Protected Status). I’ve been sharing these articles on social media and with friends.

Most of the time, I feel like I am speaking into a vacuum, as if no one is listening and no one is caring.

I have to remind myself that people have lives, and on a given day, one thing or another has more priority.

Some friends do check up on me, and I am as always, grateful. I do have a hard time expressing myself when it comes to the question, how am doing? My first instinct is to push people away because I am obviously not doing well–how could I when my future, life as I know it is on the line? I want to pull some kind of tantrum; of course, I don’t. All I want out of friends and allies is that, friends and allies, people to be there for me.

Time is better spent than lingering over the uncertain future.

Though, if you, reader, are interested in supporting immigrants, you should. The most important thing is to show up, speak out.

I am lucky to live in Northern Virginia and near Washington, D.C. Life still goes on. Over the past few summer months, I have become a festival go-er. Street festivals and book festivals are all fair game. The National Book Festival earlier this September was my favorite. I spent most of the time in the ground floor chasing childhood nostalgia.

Fall for the Book, a literary festival sponsored by my alma mater, George Mason, is coming up in October. I have a line up of poetry events on my itinerary.

I’ve been getting around metro and bus, with the occasional car coordination.  This past weekend, I worked on a poetry project with a friend and poet. It is a poem that speaks about our shared experience with learning the English language. When I first proposed the project, I had no idea what to expect, though I tried hard to keep organized.

I can’t wait to share the poem with the world. Collaboration is fun and challenging; it fosters understanding of the self.

There are no poetry publication news other that in August, my copy of Poetry Is Dead finally arrived. My poem, “Losing words,” selected for publication since late last year, is now being read in one corner of the world.

My inbox is otherwise filled with rejections from poetry magazines. To name a few: American Poetry Review, Meridian, and 2River. I’d like to say the sting of rejection eases with each rejection but that isn’t the case. Rejection makes you question the worth of your art. Rejection can make you angry. Rejection simply hurts. I am grateful for the summer campaign I ran, as through the funds raised, I have felt brave and supported.

I hope to find my poems small homes and my poetry larger homes through the forms of a chapbook or a poetry book. I am trying, so, so hard.

With everything that is going on, all I can do right now is fight on.

1,000 miles: step 33

Some months ago, my mother promised my half-sister a visit to El Salvador. We visited a lawyer and filed an application for permission to visit our home-country.The applications cost an entire pay stub. My mother’s salary gone in 1, 2, 3…

We made an appointment at the Post Office for my brother, too. I filled out a US passport application, the only one in the family literate enough. And while it wasn’t inexpensive, it certainty didn’t cost Mom two weeks of sweat.

My sister’s name is Emelin Elizabeth. She like myself, has not had a father to watch her grow up. But unlike me, she hasn’t had the privilege to grow up next to our mom. Emelin turned 15 years last April, on the day I was filling out my brother’s passport application. Turning 15 is the equivalent of turning 16 in America, and my sister, wanted to celebrate big. She asked for a pink dress, pink heels, a visit to the amusement park… as if Mum was a Santa Clause.

My mum says we don’t have much family in El Salvador. They stop asking for you once you tell them the truth about America. These streets aren’t made of gold. Money doesn’t come easy, especially with a 3rd grader’s education. Life isn’t easy, and it isn’t cheap. My mother’s children are expensive.

There won’t be a trip to El Salvador this year, we all know this.

Part of me is relieved. I am not ready. I’m petrified of walking into the country I was born to and not feel at home. I’m petrified that the white beneath my yellow skin is too pale for a country whose sun smiles in every direction. I’m petrified that all the miles between my sister and me will only intensify.

I’m also disappointed. Months turn into years and years turn into decades. I’m tired of waiting. I’m tired of postponing plans and dreams.

I suppose though, if there’s anyone up for standing in line, that person is me. Grudgingly, me.