By Luis Suárez
The same fears I faced in 2006 are the same fears I and many other undocumented immigrants feel to this day. On May 1, 2006, the U.S. saw a series of protests against proposed legislation known as H.R. 4437 that would classify undocumented individuals as felons and sought to finally urge this nation to pass comprehensive immigration reform. May 1, internationally recognized as “May Day,” has since become an annual reminder of the progress to be made for all workers’ rights in the U.S.: citizens and undocumented folks alike.
Today, we find ourselves again ready to march on May Day for the same rights we marched for twelve years ago. Our undocumented community is living in a political environment that seeks to criminalize and separate families, and make a clear statement that the United States no longer welcomes immigrants of color. Many of us have received the hateful message loud and clear. Have you? There was the termination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), termination of Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for several countries, Muslim and transgender military ban, the attacks are endless. Like many other undocumented folks in the U.S. and individuals that were personally attacked, we had to come out and share our stories to show that we are human. We had to put a face to the policies that were being implemented and terminated. For me, “coming out” as undocumented was easy, it was a common topic in the Latino neighborhood I grew up in. But then I had to come out again: as queer. This identity ended many friendships and pushed me out of my parents’ home. Today, no matter the political climate or attack’s in my fellow immigrant communities, I stand empowered and fearless as “undocuqueer.” Many of my fellow undocumented folks who live in their truth are resisting and standing together in solidarity every step of the way.
On May Day, you can find many of us marching for the right to live in peace and thrive: as queer, Muslim, Black, Asian, Pacific Islander, or any other identity we claim. For those who do not have the privilege to be out as undocumented or queer, know that the everyday existence of people like you and I is a sign of protest. You wake up every day, go to work, and find fulfillment in a country that has scapegoated its legislative inaction onto you; that is protest. Your being as an LGBTQ person or ally who loves others based on their soul in a country slowly shifting from outdated heteronormativity; that is protest.
You can celebrate May Day in the way you chose. For many, it will be marching in the streets to voice our demands, but many others will celebrate May Day simply by living. How will you celebrate?