In Washington DC, testifying before Congress.

Today I testified before Congress, the Home Land Security Department, as well as the Department of Labor in Washington DC, and a huge coalition of wombyn’s and children’s rights.  I testified along side of four other strong and powerful wombyn who have been affected by the racist policies in Arizona like SB1070 and 287(g). I carried a special and important message Stop SB1070, terminate 287(g), and pass the DREAM Act as a stand-alone bill.

I cannot believe that I am in the nations capitol at this time. I have never been to DC before and it is an honor to be here on such an important and urgent mission.

Below is the message I had to share:

Testimony presented by Silvia Rodriguez before Congress on June 10, 2010

My name is Silvia Rodriguez I will be 23 years old later this month. I was brought to Arizona from Mexico over 20 years ago, when my family came in search for a better life. We entered the country with visas, which later expired. Our family lived like every other family, my mother and father worked, my brother and sister both US citizens and I, grew up with the children around us. I learned English at a young age from a purple dinosaur, enjoyed pizza, and pool parties with friends. But our lives at home were not ideal.

When I was 13 I decided that enough was enough. The way my mother was being treated was not right.  The continual physical, emotional, and verbal abuse that my father inflicted upon my mother drove me to call the police. After this, my family was able to live in relative peace and safety for a short period of time. The strong anti-immigrant climate of hate in Arizona is worse and becoming normalized. Policies such as 287(g) and SB1070 make it impossible for families going through domestic violence to seek help. As a young woman if I currently experienced domestic violence, I by no means would call the police on someone that was threatening our lives. For fear of the well-known abuses and violation of human rights in Maricopa county jails, as well as the eminent disintegration of my family.

Things did not get better, when I wanted to get a driving permit, apply for scholarships to attend college, or register to vote.  My mom brought me to reality by telling me that our families’ visas had expired. Since my siblings are US citizens, I was the only one left out completely lacking the ‘appropriate’ documents necessary to exist in this society.

Due to my determination I was able to attend Arizona State University and graduate Cum Laude last year in 2009 with two BA’s one in Political Science and another in Transborder Chicana/o Latina/o Studies. During those four years my scholarships were taken away three times, I did not qualify for federal, state, or university financial aid. I was charged out of state tuition by the state I had grown up in. On the other hand, I received the Cesar Chavez Leadership Award in 2006 for my community service and leadership from then governor Janet Napolitano, who is now the head of Home Land Security.

The terrorizing raids from Sheriff Joe Arpaio in our community forced my family to flee the state my last year of college. We had only one week to erase the 20 years we had contributed to Phoenix.

While this left me with out a car, home, or family I now understand that it pushed me outside the bounds of my mental limits. Being that I have been accepted to start my Masters at Harvard University this fall.  Its ironic that the most prestigious university in the world has invited me in, has stated that I am welcomed, and believes that I am of value in this society, yet the state that I call home criminalized me, dehumanizes me, and makes me feel unworthy of existing let alone of an education. I ask that congress pass the Dream Act now, so that students like me can once again feel worthy and proud of the education they receive. I have done nothing wrong, I have not broken any laws, I did not have control where I was born, or what my parents did with me at the age of two. I refuse to be labeled a criminal, an illegal, or even undocumented.

As I stand with my community, with Dream Act students, and the state of Arizona, we are crying out for help. We cry out for justice. We cry out for respect, and we defend our dignity here in Washington DC, and at home. End 287(g) agreements in the country, put an end to SB1070 in Arizona, prevent similar bills in other states, and pass the Dream Act as a stand-alone bill.

Thank you.

Silvia Rodriguez

17 responses

  1. Great Story! I had the privilege to meet this amazing person! Silvia I truly admire you for your hard work and passion. I thank you with all my heart the work that you do in order to bring justice to Arizona and for your support on the DREAM act… If only people would understand the struggles undocumented students go through, the DREAM Act would have been pass a long time ago, so NOW is the time to PASS THE DREAM ACT! Its the first steps towards a comprehensive immigration reform…

  2. You are such a brave young woman. As a fellow resident of Arizona, you make me so proud. Thank you for your courage.

  3. Pass the Dream Act now!
    I admire this young lady that has had it so rough and still graduates with honors and be accepted by Harvard. This proves that my people don’t come here to take advantage of the system, they just want a better life, as any family out there. She was 2 years old when she came here, she was educated here so that makes her as American as any other person born here.

  4. Thank You Silvia.
    Some of your words made me tear up.
    We can no longer live in fear.
    DREAM ACT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    And no more separation amongst us and all the different movements. Together WE CAN.

  5. Silvia, you are amazing and inspiring! Keep it up, we will all put our little grain of sand as well. SI SE PUEDE!!!

  6. Sylvia,

    I heard you speak at the exchange before the hearing yesterday and wanted to thank you and the other women for sharing your stories.

    I was wondering if there was any chance you might post the poem that you read – it was beautiful and very powerful.

    Good luck to you this fall at Harvard!

    Abby Lane

  7. My love, thank you for sharing your story. I am a lifelong resident of Arizona and 1st generation American in my family. I am proud to be from Arizona, but times like this make it hard.

    I am proud to be an Arizonian, because it allowed for a diverse environment where I have met many different people. Bridging these connections allowed for my own personal understanding. The struggles of the people of this state are my struggles. While I have never had to question my validity as a citizen, student, or contributor, I have been affected none the less.

    I cry out for you, others like you, and for my best friend, Elizabeth Covarrubias who shares your story. Unlike you, she will not be attending Harvard this fall, but she will continue to try to keep her family together in a state and nation trying and allowing them to be torn apart.

    I hope the Dream Act passes, but I also hope that we continue a dialogue in and out of the classroom, at home and work, and in times of need and not. Only when we communicate can we understand and grow. That’s the world I hope for.

  8. Amazing individual! Silvia thank you for taking steps many can’t or won’t. I admire you tremendously

  9. Dear Silvia,
    As a teacher I want to show you my admiration. Students like you are the ones who inspire me to keep teaching. It is amazing how a young lady has the courage to fight for education. I want to show you my gratitude, because not many understand how important education is. Thankfully you do. Keep that passion and you will go far.
    I support the DREAM ACT! It needs to pass NOW! Fellow citizens, let’s remember that these students just want to be part of a nation that they have been raised and love since the beginning.

  10. People like you are the ones who deserve a chance. We need to pass the DREAM ACT because these young motivated students are the ones who are going to be good members of society. We cannot deny them an education. Fellow American citizens, you need to understand that this is the right thing to do and we need to do it now!

  11. Decriminalized
    By Silvia Rodriguez Vega

    Stop ignoring me; I know you do it so easily
    But please try to see me

    I’m the problem you try to hide
    I’m the child left behind

    I’m the anger in this state,
    I’m the hope that is ingrained

    I’m the angry youth, which is your future
    Who’s hopes and dream you try to butcher

    I. brought by desperate mother and alcoholic father
    Born in the, so-called “wrong side.”

    Tiered of pleasing, and trying to impress you
    Jumping over every bump you put my way
    While you try so hard to leave me astray.

    Why do you hate me, and call me “illegal?”
    Why? Do you feel scared?

    I think you do.

    Scared of me of my color, or my people?
    Or of my potential?

    I don’t think you’ve realized
    That even if you don’t sympathize
    I will not agonize

    And there is no need to debate,
    Because my dreams, are much larger than your hate
    So like Fox allow me to give you an update,

    That next time you throw something my way
    It will not be ok
    This is my home
    And I am here to stay!

    But Waiting,
    Is all I can do
    And Sitting,
    Is all I have become
    I hear the drops, splattering…slower
    I hear the voices echoing…Its over

    Decriminalize my eyes.
    When I cry
    For punishment I’ve relieved for being born,
    On the southern side

    I see their dreams fulfilling like its easy
    I see my dreams betraying my eyes
    Telling me, “don’t you realize, you need a miracle”

    A miracle to escape this slave, cage, they’ve put me in
    To escape the walls they build
    The bars that they set
    The glass ceiling, they Wind ex
    To escape without fear

    I fear waiting
    Fear is sitting… On my cushioned brain asking me for company.

    But How to liberate?
    Is what I wonder
    How to fly and be fly

    To set aside their eyes
    and see for my self,
    and soar

    Above their:

    No I don’t need reparations.

    I need to fly and be fly.

    I am not the criminal!
    I am not the one to blame
    I am not an “illegal”

    I am not the other;
    I am you…
    and your ancestors reaching this land.
    Inhabited, feeding, sustaining my antepasados.
    But remember your ancestors and Columbus
    you are an overstayed, visa lacking, immigrant… too.

    But in case you were wondering… I do not hate the Sheriff..
    Because hate is too strong a word…too wrong a word.., and yet the ignorance and fear he emits, makes me feel Sorry for him

    He has tortured me, terrorized me, and still I stand free… as a tree with deeper roots than you can ever imagine.

    Let us all be free,
    You know if you deport us…
    YOU will have to clean your own toilets,
    and build your own homes and pick your own food.

    So, no, it is not convenient to stop this oppression
    But we endure, and we will not give up…

    Because when the Dream Act passes, and believe me …you will see…

    My dreams will reach … reality

    And you WILL remember this poem.

    You will remember me.


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