My Fight to Reunite with My FamilyShare on Twitter Share on Facebook
My name is Luis Gomez and I was born in Guatemala. When I was one or two years old, my parents came to the United States in search of work and I was left in my home country to be raised by my grandmother. For the next six years, all I knew of my parents were their voices on the phone telling me they loved and missed me. When I turned 8 years old, my mom asked me if I wanted to see her, and I immediately said yes. This moment marked the beginning of my immigrant experience.
After I told my mom that I was willing to come to the United States, I made the dangerous journey across the Mexico-U.S. border with my 16-year-old cousin. Because I was so young, I saw the border crossing as an adventure and not as something dangerous. Once in the United States, I boarded a plane to Oregon, and it was at the Portland airport in 1999 that I met my mom for the first time. I did not know what my mother looked like, but I knew she was my mom when she ran up to me and hugged me so hard that my back cracked. A couple of months later, we moved to Massachusetts.
I was so happy to finally be together again with my family. At first it was difficult for me to adjust to the American way of life, but I came to realize that I needed to go to school, study, and do my best because I wanted to make my parents proud. I studied hard and became one of the best students in my class. I played soccer and was part of the National Honor Society and babysat my little brother and sister. My goal at the time was to go to college and become an electrical engineer.
When I was a sophomore in high school in 2007, I realized what it meant to be undocumented. I had just gotten home from school and received a phone call from my aunt telling me that my mother had been caught in a workplace raid by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). It was an emotionally wrecking time for many families around the city since over 300 workers were arrested. Fortunately, our family lawyer was able to get my mother out of the detention center after a month.
However, our encounters with immigration enforcement did not end then. A year passed by and everything seemed to be going back to normal until ICE showed up at my house looking for my father. Although ICE did not find my father, he eventually turned himself in because he did not want to live in fear of being persecuted. My father fought his deportation proceedings for a year, but in August of 2009, he lost and was deported back to Guatemala. After only 9 years together, my family was separated once again.
That same year, I graduated from a vocational high school with honors. It was a difficult year for me since I knew that I could not drive, work, continue my vocational career, or use the scholarship that had been awarded to me for college. In 2010, I received a phone call from the Lead Organizer of the Student Immigrant Movement (SIM) and was invited to attend Dream Camp, SIM’s first major training. I was convinced and decided to go. At that event I found out that many other students were going through the same situation as I was and it motivated me to make a difference.
For the next two years, I was present at all trainings and meetings and spent a lot of time volunteering—all while working full time in a factory in New Bedford. In 2012, SIM hired me as the Regional Coordinator for New Bedford to help undocumented youth fill out their paperwork for the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals program, which provides a work permit for two years. One year later, I was offered the responsibility of asking others to join SIM and fight for their communities as a Lead Organizer for SIM. SIM taught me to how to be undocumented and unafraid, and now I am trying to teach others to do the same.
My fight to reunite with my family is currently being documented in “Indivisible”, a film directed by Hilary Linder, and I want to invite you to watch our trailer here and help us raise funds so that I can continue sharing my story of family separation with others. My passion for immigration reform and justice for our communities is fueled by the challenges my family and I have faced in the United States, and I will continue to fight for reform and families through SIM. The time for immigration reform is now!