The journalist called him to ask about my life through his point of view. She asked if he was scared about our family being separated because of deportation; she listened as he said, “yes, they’re my only family”. The journalist asked about us growing up and if we get along now, he replied, “we’re just like everyone else. We argue and then we are alright again”. She finally asked, “have you ever felt embarrassed to have an undocumented sister?” to which my 16 year old brother replied, “no, never. On the other hand I am proud of her. I wish she was the one with papers, not me. I feel like I take mine for granted”.
I sat there stunned as I realized what an amazing ally he was becoming and I never noticed it before. In the back of my head I always thought he was still too naive. Never before had my brother said something like this and here came the watery eyes.
I saw my younger brother in a different light after he had completed his first phone interview. I’ve never thought about the differences in immigration status within my siblings. My brother has simply been my brother, not a social security number.
When discussing immigration at home, conversations about the Dream Act are summarized and simplified in the hopes of avoiding a major Dream Headache. However, I recently discovered that my brother then shares his findings to his history class. His teacher applauds him for being the only kid in class that is so in-tune to these kinds of issues. It’s not about being worldly or reading the newspaper, it’s about living it everyday.
I never realized how aware he has been about the immigration inequality that surrounds us. At 16 I was worried about surviving high school and hoping I didn’t meet someone like Regina George. My brother at 16 worries that one day, when he gets home, his sister and his mother may not be there anymore. At 16 my brother worries about rubbing his birthright privilege in my face instead of using it to its fullest potential in the name of equality. At 16, he doesn’t feel worthy of holding a social security card because his older sister is undocumented. At 16 he battles with the oppression that is directed at two members of the family. At 16 he should be worrying about homework, tests, grades, dating, puberty and friends.
To my citizen siblings….
You are loved, valued and appreciated regardless of immigration status even though I may not show it enough. I’m sorry if in the future I ever become jealous of your success. I promise to put myself last and help you study for your road test. I promise to sit by you when applying for college and pushing you to aim higher. I promise to figure out how to apply for financial aid together. I promise to pass along any scholarship or job application you may qualify for. I promise to attend every award ceremony and special occasion. When you are able to drive legally, I will try my best not to feel worthless or useless as I sit in the passenger seat. If I am still undocumented by the time you all get married, please hold your ceremony in the states so I can attend. I’m sorry for not being able to drive you wherever you want to go and for not being able to teach you how, for I myself don’t know. I’m sorry for not being able to help you pay your expenses or your tuition in the future; I can barely afford my own. I promise to go with you when you vote for the first time. If you decide to join the army, even though I may not agree, I promise to go with you to the recruitment office.
I promise to stand by you and be there any way that I can. I will never wish for your unhappiness or for you to fail in life because I love each and everyone of you .