Saturday, October 2, 2010

What it means to be a child of an illegal alien

Daughter of Jesus Caballero and Macrina Colunga-Caballero, I am the product of undocumented migration; the child of an underground network of imaginaries, of dreams, hopes and aspirations, of desires, needs and necessities. As this child, I am the target of a concrete institution that classifies me as a terrorist, an enemy, an anti-American. Through laws, walls, fences, rivers, watchdogs, I am deconstructed fabric-by-fabric and resembled, manipulated and categorized as a political object; as a worthless bare body. While I try to break from the laws that execrate my existence, I delve deeper into the margin of society. It is in this margin where I find guidance and "ganas." In this margin lie my people, immigrants forced to toil in fields, mothers branded as the best home-cleaning machine, children labeled as societies future criminals. Immigration policy digs deep into my constructed margin. It pierces my semi-bronze skin, and bores into my core, into our core. It cuts, burns, and drills itself into our soul. And though at times, living here proves to be more than just an endeavor, much more than just a painful struggle, the margin is my home. Home. It is where home-cooked tortillas and tamales mingle with Anzaldua, Fuentes, and Subcomandante Marcos. Here is where Octavio Paz's cosmopolitan race, lives, thrives, and flourishes. Yo soy la frontera. I am the skin that burns in the Arizona desert, the tears that pour from frightened eyes that search for hope in a long sewage tunnel, the mouth that gasps for air in car trunk. I am the face of the border, I am the margin.

En Unidad



  1. Although I admire your ganas Sandy, your post is a little melodramatic. I think I would feel much more of an emotional impact if you spoke about your personal experience rather than making these lofty declarations. I dont think any of us can really complain of a painful struggle when we have had the privilege to be where we are. I think saying so only lessens the actual discrimination that others face.

  2. This post just expresses my emotions at the time. Don't get me wrong, I am extremely grateful for what I have and where I am at. I do agree that the declarations I make are extreme but it was out of the emotion of the moment. As for margin, I should clarify that It is possible to move in and out.

  3. Beautiful piece, Sandy. I find it full of meaning and passion and frustration.... and to ultimately be uplifting in spite of the struggle (yours, of your antepasados, friends, family, and community) that you come to describe.

    I think that flights of emotion can bring one to do creative and inspiring work. I think that you don't have to necessarily be marginalized to the extreme in order to talk about that experience. I mean, many of us have friends, family, and people we've made connections with who have been in these marginalized situations. To different extents, I think we've all had personal struggles to face with instituations, our identities, social constructions of us...

    That's why I find Sandy's piece moving- because she speaks to all of that. Also, I think it is valuable to provide a voice for people who are 'silenced' in a sense... People who don't necessarily get a spot in a history book, or in political realms, or in the decision making of 'the powers that be.'

    Empathy runs deep. We may not be personally marginalized to the extreme (being in this institution, with so much opportunity), yet many are somehow close to that experience. Be it through family, friends, or our own experiences... we cannot deny that or erase that or pretend it doesn't exist.

    We can be a voice. & when we do this, it doesn't necessarily mean we are taking on someone else's experience (which I don't think Sandy was trying to do). We are merely framing an injustice through our own eyes. Our own eyes and our own hearts that have felt the pain of a best friend limited by the dream act not existing.... or felt out-of-place & boxed in because of socioeconomic background or cultural differences, or numerous other situations... & that voice holds power, new perspectives, meaning, and ultimately- unity and inspiration for all of us.