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Undocumented Americans Are Breaking Stereotypes With A Social Media Campaign

Define American

Who is American to you? What does it mean to be American?

These are questions immigrants and the children of immigrants often ask themselves. And as many of them now face an uncertain future at the hands of President Trump, who stands to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program these questions become even bigger. DACA allowed certain undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children to receive protection from deportation and work eligibility.

Define American is working to shift the narrative on American identity by empowering undocumented people to tell their stories of joy and resilience with their #UndocuJoy social media campaign. Through this campaign, Define American is working to show a full representation of who undocumented Americans and fight fears.

Watch the powerful campaign video!

Per the website:

#UndocuJoy combats victimizing representations of people who are undocumented by flooding the media with authentic images of happiness.  We encourage undocumented Americans to share their authentic moments of joy, and allies are encouraged to spread their message.

Yosimar Reyes, artist in residence at Define American, created the campaign so undocumented people have a space to rewrite the narrative of who they are, away from how the media paints them. As he puts it, “the media is obsessed with our fear and not how we thrive.”

“#UndocuJoy is for all of us who are tired of answering, ‘Why don’t you just get in line?'” says Reyes. “It’s a love letter to us from us reminding each other that we can’t let a government rob of us joy. It is also a reminder to allies that we can speak for ourselves.”

Through #UndocuJoy, undocumented people find healing and are reminded that they “should exist beyond justifying our existence,” according to Reyes. As he puts it, the idea of being undocumented isn’t an identity but a social condition.

So far, people have been sharing what their #UndocuJoy looks like. For some, it’s cafecito.

For others, it’s having the freedom to explore.

It’s also about spending time at the beach with loved ones.

Whatever your #UndocuJoy looks like, the underlying message is the refusal for each undocumented person to allow the circumstances to keep them from living a full and happy life.

“It raises up the simple fact that no matter what is happening in politics, policy, or the media, our undocumented community continues to thrive,” says Sarah Lowe, digital strategist at Define American. “Their resilience is our #UndocuJoy.”

READ: Undocumented Immigrants In North Carolina Aren’t Eligible For Financial Aid, But This Woman Found A Way To Help Undocumented High School Students Who Want To Continue Their Education

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The ACLU Is Warning Everyone About ICE's Request To Start Destroying Documents About Rights Abuses

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The ACLU Is Warning Everyone About ICE’s Request To Start Destroying Documents About Rights Abuses

johnnbcla / Instagram / Rosmarie Voegtli / Flickr

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has issued a statement bringing attention to a request made by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials asking that they be allowed to destroy detention operation documents.

CREDIT: Nina Robinson/Flickr

ICE officials reached out to people at the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) for approval to destroy documents detailing sexual assaults, placing detainees in solitary confinement and deaths while in custody.

According to the ACLU, ICE wants the ability to destroy documents “ranging from 20 years for sexual assault and death records, to three years for reports about solitary confinement.” Victoria Lopez, the Senior Staff Attorney for the ACLU National Prison Project, says this has serious consequences, especially in a time when President Trump wants to increase the number people detained.

Lopez writes that the documents they want to destroy are necessary for public understanding and overall transparency into an agency that is “notorious for inhumane and unconstitutional conditions” that impact hundreds of thousands of people. Some of the most common complaints made against ICE is inadequate medical care and poor investigations into allegations of sexual harassment.

There have been 10 detained immigrant deaths in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody this fiscal year, according to a statement by ICE. The statement specifies that 44-year-old Carlos Mejia-Bonilla, the tenth person in their custody to die, passed away of complications “due to gastrointestinal bleeding.” Mejia-Bonilla was an inmate at the Hudson County jail.

Read more from ACLU here.

READ: After Criticism, Border Patrol Announces It Will Close Immigration Checkpoints In Path Of Hurricane Harvey

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