Graduation day on May 11, 2013 at Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas.
Carlos Aguilar (far right) and friends on graduation day on May 11, 2013 at Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas. Credit: Courtesy / Carlos Aguilar

As the results from the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election – a historically tense and formidable election – were made official, an overwhelming sense of fear and uncertainty threatened to take over my life… but they didn’t… not again.

As I laid in bed this morning, I couldn’t help but to think of other Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and undocumented students whose motivation and expectations for a better future may have been negatively impacted.

We are faced with adversity. The continuation and expansion of the DACA program is in limbo, and a just and comprehensive reform to a broken immigration system may seem relatively unattainable, pero todo va a estar bien – but everything will be alright. Everything will be alright because a piece of paper does not define who I am…it does not define who you are. While it may seem as if we will be forced to defend, or even relieve, previously won battles, todo va a estar bien. And everything will be alright because I know no fear, and of that I am certain.

A piece of paper does not define who we are, and even as unjust laws threaten to oppress us, the more they attempt to criminalize us, and the more we are marginalized… the stronger we will become.

As educated undocumented students, it is our responsibility to demand the just treatment of our peers, our communities, and society in general. Through our ceaseless fight for social justice and human dignity, we will continue to civically engage socially, politically, and educationally.

Thus, this letter is for you, the immigrant, the undocumented, and the DACA student whose only aspiration is to “be able to attain to the fullest stature of which (you) are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what (you) are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position,” as James Truslow Adams wrote in his 1931 book The Epic America.

This letter is for you, to remind you that you are not alone and that a support group is at your disposal. This is your community; we are as strong as the sum of our people. This is a plea to you- a call to action as capable, academically advantaged, and ethically engaged individuals. Your active membership and disclosure promises a safe community of activists, advocates of social justice and characters of moral change and integrity.

Accept this letter as an invitation to continue defining who we are, unafraid, and certain that together we will prevail.

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Carlos Aguilar

Carlos Aguilar is a doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). His research centers on issues related to undocumented youth in particularly harsh contexts. As an undocumented...