From your Laker peer
November 3, 2020
Dear GV friends, classmates, faculty, and staff,
As a current Allendale resident and a proud Laker, I am sure we have many things in common. Enjoying the beautiful colors on the leaves throughout campus as we transition through the fall season, being a part of the crowd in a game, cheering on our Laker athletes; but there is one thing that sets me apart from you, and that is my family.
In early 1992, my mom and dad selflessly made the decision to leave their hometown, and travel over 2,000 miles away to a new country to start a new life and begin what some call “the American dream.” This meant leaving all of their family and friends behind and starting a new life, in a place that not only was a different culture but also spoke a foreign language. My parents like many others came from, very poor families. You see, what we take for granted– like running water, natural gas, and transportation– my parents didn’t have access to. The small town they come from didn’t have running water, natural gas was a luxury, and had only two busses that ran into the nearest city but even then, those buses were not reliable. This town, along with many others didn’t have any sources of income. The only thing people live off is the land they are able to harvest off of, besides that it’s nearly impossible to make money.
Leaving their home and comfort zone didn’t come easy, but my parents knew the future wasn’t looking bright if they stayed. So they packed up their belongings into two backpacks and my older sister who at the time was only 11 months old and headed over to what would later become their future home. Fast forward 28 years later, my parents who are now grandparents and have raised 3 proud Michiganian children are still in the same situation from 1992– that is living undocumented.
As a child, I quickly learned that as much as I was privileged, at the same time I wasn’t. My parents did as best they could to try and give my siblings and me the most normal childhood possible, but that quickly deteriorated. As a child in grade school, I developed anxiety and depression. While many times kids my age were thinking about recess and toys, I was constantly worried about coming home and my parents not being there or them being detained by Immigration while at work.
When I turned 13, I turned into what my family jokingly calls “the youngest Uber around.” You see, my parents don’t have access to driver licenses because of their undocumented status. At the very young age of 13, my dad showed me how to drive; This turned into me being the primary driver for everything. This ranged from doctor appointments to grocery shopping, and even sometimes dropping off my parents at work if their ride canceled on them.
With all of this, I had to quickly grow up and become very mature in a small amount of time and at a young age. Looking back now I realize that having all these responsibilities helped shape me into who I am today, but I also feel like a part of me was never able to really be expressed. Most times when my friends were out at a football game on Friday nights, catching a movie on the weekend, or just hanging out most times I couldn’t because I had to be at home waiting for my parents to get out of work or with them somewhere since they couldn’t drive.
During this most recent presidential administration, my family’s fears have skyrocketed. Not knowing if this will be the last holiday season together as a family is something that keeps me up at night and worries me more than anything. As a daughter of undocumented immigrants, I have lived and seen a lot more than many of my peers. I am here today to not only share this small part of my story but to urge every single one of you reading this letter that if you have the ability and privilege to vote, please do.
Your vote is more than just a ballot with filled-in bubbles; It’s your voice choosing the future leader of this country. When voting you are not only performing your civic duty but also speaking up for those who can’t. So this November 3rd, vote for equality, vote for human rights, and most importantly vote for our undocumented friends and families whose futures lie in the hands of the voters.
Your Laker Peer.