Skip to main content

Undocumented and Unafraid: Accomplices Needed

Joel Sati, PhD Student, Jurisprudence and Social Policy | November 14, 2016

“And it is so easy to look away, to live with the fruits of our history and to ignore the great evil done in all of our names. But you and I have never truly had that luxury. I think you know.”— Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me.

The aftermath of the election has been particularly difficult time for me and my community. When it became apparent that Trump had many more electoral votes than he should have had, a despair — one I still have — came over me. President-elect Trump has committed to do whatever possible to make life unlivable for undocumented immigrants: he has promised to rescind DACA, he has tapped Kris Kobach, author of the infamous “Show Me Your Papers” law (SB1070) in Arizona, to be part of his immigration team and he has promised to increase ICE collaboration with local law enforcement in the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants.

Muslims, LGBTQ folk and people of color must live with the totalizing fear of the vigilante violence that has received new life — what we foolishly thought was “the past.” There have been verbal assaults, physical assaults, and other acts of blatant, racist intimidation across the country, as well as here in Berkeley. For many marginalized peoples, this has been their reality — even in an Obama administration. With Trump’s election, discrimination and violence is not only pernicious, but completely shameless.

As a black, undocumented immigrant, the double-specter of immigration and police enforcement is a reality I must contend with, even as I pursue an education here at the liberal bubble that is Berkeley. And as much as I would like to think that my current position and geographic location affords me some kind of privilege, it does not. As January 21, 2017, quickly approaches, my fears for the safety of myself and my community, both here in California as well as across the country, continue to mount. Not only am I fearful, but I also feel inadequate. I do not feel like I belong in this country, I do not feel like I am safe in this country, and I do not believe that my work — focused on giving a voice to undocumented immigrants in policy contexts — will be worth a damn. Nevertheless, I push on.

The bleak picture I paint notwithstanding, I am thankful to the faculty, staff, and colleagues who checked in to see if I am okay, especially on the day after the election. Further, I am really thankful that people here at the Jurisprudence and Social Policy program at Boalt have my back. But I want to make sure those who say they have my back know what that means.

To have my back — and the back of other undocumented people — means to take responsibility for the political situation we find ourselves in, and use your position to counter the fear and violence that has now received the imprimatur of the state. Having our back is not just saying those words; it requires concrete action. For the undocumented student who now feels like their first semester at Cal has taken a turn for the worst, we owe it to them to do whatever possible to ensure their safety and that of their families. Undocumented students at Cal don’t need allies; we need accomplices.

I am convinced we have the minds, the resources, and the drive to institute concrete and trailblazing change at the University of California, Berkeley. We cannot hope to change the world unless we resolve to contend with it.

Comments to “Undocumented and Unafraid: Accomplices Needed

  1. My Country,

    California History Lesson

    What is now California was first settled by various Native American tribes before being explored by a number of European expeditions during the 16th and 17th centuries. It was then claimed by the Spanish Empire as part of Alta California in the larger territory of New Spain. Alta California became a part of Mexico in 1821 following its successful war for independence, but was ceded to the United States in 1848 after the Mexican–American War.

    Grade 4 Model Lessons

  2. ” Some alumni are leading truly transformative changes in government policy, corporate governance, university institutions, and health and education reforms, among other arenas; changes that could not have been accomplished from the outside. These transformative leaders who return to Africa attribute their international education, and continuing international collaborations and networks, with giving them the confidence, skills, and resources they have needed to endure challenging periods at home, and, over time, succeed and thrive.”
    (Robin Marsh, Berkeley Blog, July 11,2016)

    • Dave,

      This is our country, your standing on Mexico territory. I will be the first to pack your bags DAVE, your only here because your ancestors were once immigrants and now you are in a place of privilege and can make ignorant comments as you have. I would first take some major history lessons before your speak. By the way I am happy to pack your bags first!

Comments are closed.