Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Undocumented for a Day

I accidentally went undocumented for a day. I left home for my day's appointments, drove over 33 miles to my destination, and realized I was without my purse and my cell phone. No driver's license or any ID. I was undocumented by default. I decided to make it my undocumented day. I felt some panic and fear.

I drove carefully to avoid being pulled over. I drive carefully normally, but I was way more alert and cautious this day. I had packed my lunch and went to a park to eat it. I felt relieved that I did not have to buy food, since I'd left my money at home in my wallet.

Again, the day felt odd. I felt like I was hiding and avoiding contact with people to escape suspicion, questions, or trouble. I was nervous.

I called on my three clients, drove Los Angeles freeways to get to various destinations, and got home without incident. Then I exhaled and relaxed.

I am white and in my 50's. Those two things gave me some benefit of the doubt, which spoiled a truly undocumented role play experience. People assume I'm here legally because of my appearance, which taught me more about the power of stereotyping, either for prestige or prejudice. It did expand my experience to realize that in a more personal, tangible way. The whole experience broadened my understanding and empathy for the immigrant and continued my advocacy for the issues of compassionate immigration reform.

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