Chicago, IL. Three undocumented-led organizations in Illinois, Nuestra Voz ( NV ) , the Latin@ Youth Action League ( L@YAL ) and the Immigrant Youth Justice League ( IYJL ) , have announced that the theme for this year's National Coming Out of the Shadows week is "I define myself. Undocumented, unafraid, and unapologetic." This phrase is meant to highlight the diversity, right to self-expression, and support for self-determination, that the undocumented are often denied. This has been a popular theme amongst undocumented organizers in the U.S., exemplified by the highlighting of undocumented queer stories, the escalation of civil disobedience, and the anti-deportation activism of those outside the traditional "DREAM Act" criteria.
Also significant is the March 16th rally, which will be taking place in an Illinois county known for it's tough local enforcement of immigration laws, Dupage county. This county is one of the localities that aggressively implements immigration enforcement programs that focus on collaboration with local police enforcement. The implementation of enforcement programs like the information sharing policy "Secure Communities" has resulted in the deportations of thousands of undocumented immigrants with no criminal records, According to Department of Homeland Security statistics, 44% of those deported in Dupage County through Secure communities had not been convicted of any crime, as reported by the Chicago Reporter in December 2011.
"Because of Secure Communities, my family and I have to worry everyday about whether we will be picked up and deported," said Fanny Lopez-Martinez, who is an undocumented student from Dupage County. "My husband has to worry about his wife not being home when he gets back. Since I started attending college my fears increased because I drive to and from school five days a week." She added that with little access to public transportation and resources, suburban undocumented youth live in fear of arrest and deportation for simply driving to school everyday.
For organizers with Nuestra Voz and L@YAL, this rally in Dupage is of particular importance, and will take place in front of the County Sheriff's office, challenging the criminalization of undocumented immigrants.
"When we come out and share our stories, we challenge people to no longer think of us as 'illegal,' but they think of you as Arianna, Jorge, as Fanny as Miguel; human beings that have reasons for coming and staying in this country. It's important for us to come out, share who we are, and let people know why we are here. And why we are staying here," said Arianna Salgado, an organizer with Nuestra Voz, and organizer of the Dupage rally.
National Coming Out of the Shadows Week
Illinois 2012 Calendar of Events
Press Conference announcing rally ( Chicago )
Tuesday March 6th, 2012, 11:30 AM
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
55 East Jackson Boulevard, @2075 Conference Room
Visuals: Press conference will take place during poster-making session. Marchers getting ready.
Illinois Drem Act Training ( DuPage )
Wednesday March 7th, 2012, 1:00-4:00 PM
College of DuPage
2201 College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd
National Coming Out of the Shadows Day ( Chicago )
Saturday March 10th, 21012, 1:00-3:00 PM
Undocu-Queer Coming Out ( Chicago )
March 12, 2012, 7:00-9:00 PM
Community gathering on LGBTQ immigration issues
Co-hosted by Radio Arte's Homofrecuencia
Radio Arte, 1401 West 18th Street
DuPage County Press Conference & Sign-making ( Suburbs )
Wednesday March 14th, 4:00 PM
Location to be confirmed
Coming Out of the Shadows in DuPage County ( DuPage_
Friday March 16th , 4:00-7:00 PM
DuPage County Sheriff's Office
505 County Farm Road, Bldg 505