One of the most powerful ways that Immigrants Rising is able to connect with the community is through our staff members, who often are directly impacted by the undocumented experience. We’re inspired by our Legal Services Lead Jesús Flores Rodríguez, a DACA recipient from Los Angeles.
So folks may know you from your Instagram Lives and outreach to undocumented aspiring lawyers, but what can you share about your own relationship with being undocumented?
When I first joined the Immigrants Rising team, being undocumented was something that I wanted to heal from. But the journey that I took with Immigrants Rising showed me that being undocumented does not take away my voice.
Speaking of your voice, can you tell me what the process was like for you to finding your voice as an undocumented person?
As a member of the LGBTQ+ community and being undocumented, my voice was something that I had felt very conscious about. Every day of my life, I was encouraged to stay quiet to not call attention to myself for being gay or for being undocumented. Slowly, I punished myself for who I was: I shut down emotionally. Should I be speaking out? Would people take me seriously? Going back and watching my old Instagram Lives on Immigrants Rising’s Instagram, I could see myself running those questions over and over in my head.
But now, these questions no longer have power over me. Whether it is speaking to a group of aspiring undocumented attorneys about the law school process or with a partner organization in Spanish about traveling while undocumented, I’ve learned that my voice has power. No matter the tone of my voice, I know that it gives me the authority to assure them.
Can you share with us what work finding your voice inspired you to do?
This year, I had the privilege of coordinating Immigrants Rising’s Pre-Law Fund programming, educating people in our community about their travel options, screening high school students in the Bay Area for possible immigration options, and so much more. Doing this work gives me the confidence not only in myself, but in my community to come together.
Lastly, what has your experience at Immigrants Rising been like so far?
Immigrants Rising is a place where I have had the opportunity to witness and be a part of leadership as an undocumented person. And it would truly mean a lot to see more opportunities for undocumented leadership. Whether it’s working with Denia Pérez, a DACA recipient who is an attorney herself, or leading workshops by myself, I know that this change is possible.
Thanks for your time and sharing your story with us! Check out our Legal Services program here.