Chicago recently celebrated its annual National Coming Out of the Shadows week, where undocumented immigrants share their stories about the difficulties of living in the United States as a resident without a green card or U.S. visa.
The event, which has been an annual event in Chicago since 2010, provides a venue for undocumented residents to have a feeling of camaraderie. This year’s event drew more than 300 attendees.
“All my life, I had been told to hide my status and feel ashamed of myself,” one undocumented immigrant told the responsive crowd, according to the Windy City Times.
While many immigration reform advocates at the event spoke on how immigration regulations have created hardships for themselves, some attendees remarked on how the federal immigration laws have affected their family members.
David Lopez-Martinez, an army veteran who recently came back from Afghanistan, told the audience how his wife’s illegal status has put a lot of emotional and monetary stress on the family, with most of this fatigue a result of stringent immigration and naturalization laws, according to the National Catholic Reporter.
“My wife shouldn’t have to worry about being deported before I get home, if I get home,” Lopez-Martinez said, according to the news source. “I shouldn’t have to worry about my own government taking her away from me. So many people believe this is no longer an issue since we’re married.”
Despite being married, David’s wife, Fanny, has been unable to secure a permanent resident card. Currently working on her master’s degree, Fanny vocalized her own remorse at her family’s plight.
“I’m a college graduate and I will get my master’s degree soon, but I can’t get a job. I can’t even help my husband pay for groceries, for rent, for gas, for other expenses. I feel helpless,” Fanny said.
March 10’s rally ended, however, with a ray of hope. Holding their signs proudly in the air, attendees all chanted in unison, “Undocumented, unafraid.”