Now that it’s summer time, it’s also vacation time for many. Yes, undocumented people like to take vacations too! However, this season is also very uncomfortable for many of us, at least for me it is. Many of my friends are citizens, and as such, they will be traveling, working and overall spending tons of money that I on the other hand, don’t have. Throughout time I’ve learned how to navigate these conversations and also how to enjoy my summer time as well, instead of stressing over things I cannot do, I find things I CAN do.
Yes, we cannot travel outside of the country like many of our documented friends, but we can travel inside of the country and inside our own state as well. Check out this flying while undocumented post in case you want to fly outside of the state. Depending on my availability and resources, I’ll go out of town for a few days to enjoy the scenery elsewhere. If you have friends around the area, ask if they can host you so you won’t have to spend a lot of money on a room rental. This is one of the pluses of knowing other activist youth in different states, when traveling I can ask to stay with them (shout out to DreamActivist Pennsylvania’s Fernanda and Cesar Marroquin!).
Think about transportation within the area you are traveling to, is there public transportation? Can you walk everywhere or are places extremely far? Is someone driving you? Are you driving? If there is carpooling, do that instead and just help cover the cost for gas. If you are driving without a license, how are the laws there in regards to this? Travelling while undocumented takes more planning because we have to worry about money, lodging but also the laws in that state and detention centers in the area. Remember to fill out an emergency contact sheet and leave copies of all items of identification just in case you are detained.
We can’t go crazy at the club like our documented friends, what happens if we are arrested? Many times we can’t even go inside the club because our foreign IDs are not sufficient proof of identity. Dear documented friends, when partying with us, take all this into consideration and have patience for when it happens. I am not asking for pity, but don’t invite me to a club that says “state IDs only!” on the flyer. We are already embarrassed enough as it is, having to translate our passports to the bouncer or being asked stupid questions at the entrance, don’t add your judgmental stares as well. This also includes when you start acting up, remember that we are put in danger as well and can be arrested for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Hanging out with documented friends can sometimes lead to exclusive conversations without even noticing it. They start to mention the countries they will be visiting, or the things they’ve already done and will do before school starts again. I suggest mentioning that you feel left out of the conversation or slowly change the course the discussion so you can also participate in it. Documented friends, the summer time is not only for you to enjoy, we also would like to contribute and it would be nice to have the space to speak and actually be listened too. Be considerate when discussing accomplishments and experiences. If you know your friend, who is undocumented, has been working two jobs and hasn’t been able to have some down time, why not ask about those jobs or plan something out this friend can also attend? Understand that many of us cannot actually enjoy vacation time because we don’t have financial aid waiting for us next semester; we have to work to pay for those classes, rent, food, children and to overall survive.
Can’t go on vacation? Why not bring the vacation time to you? Share that Netflix account and have a movie night, how about a nice walk on the beach or watch the sunrise? Movie theatre and plays usually have a matinee price, or student discounts, ask about those instead of paying full price for something that could be cheaper. Attend a friends BBQ or Google free events around your area. Many states have tons of free concerts, park events and give-a-ways. Always always always look for coupons! Living Social and Groupon are the biggest ones that have helped me get UndocuSummer activities at an affordable price (of course you need to be able to pay online via debit or credit card) from city cruises to all access museum passes. Don’t be shy or quiet about things. We miss out on opportunities for not being vocal. If you like to party or drink, check if the place allows for free entrance before midnight. I understand the party doesn’t really start till about 2am, but if I can go in for free to something that is usually $50 you best believe I’ll wait the extra 2 hours! Some places are open bar, that’s also a good way to not spend too much money on drinks. Be careful with sneaking into places for it is trespassing and the owners can call the police. If you need an adrenaline rush, why not go on a roller coaster instead of getting fined or even worse, arrested?
It’s always good to surround yourself with other folks who are aware and sympatric of our struggles or who are undocumented and get it. There is no time being wasted on explanations when your friend is in the same situation as you and together you can plan out outings both of you will enjoy.
Have any tips for undocumented folks who want to enjoy their summer?