Fair
50°FFairFull Forecast

Addison group works to bring immigrants 'out of the shadows'

Published: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 12:30 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, July 25, 2014 4:47 a.m. CDT
Caption
Daniel Hernandez of Bensenville tells his personal story during a "Coming out of the Shadows" rally outside Addison Village Hall on Saturday, March 16, 2013. Hernandez was one over several undocumented immigrants to speak at the rally, organized by L@yal DuPage (Latin@ Youth Action League) to raise awareness against deportation. Matthew Piechalak — mpiechalak@shawmedia.com

ADDISON — More than 150 protesters — many wearing black T-shirts that read "Out of the Shadows" — recently gathered at Addison Village Hall to hear the stories of undocumented families affected by deportation and immigration policies.

The March 16 demonstration was the second annual for the Latino Youth Action League (LOYAL), which formed in June 2011. The local group talks to high school students about continuing their education and promotes workshops through the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and other immigrant organizations.

Their "Drop the I Word" campaign also is aimed to end the branding of immigrants as illegal aliens.

"It's taboo to tell someone you're undocumented. You put your family at risk," said Jocelyn Munguia, a LOYAL co-founder. "That's why it was a hidden issue. People didn't want to talk about it."

According to LOYAL, DuPage County has more deportations than any county in Illinois. The organization was founded in response to ICE's Secure Communities Program, which calls for the deportation of undocumented drivers.

LOYAL member Liz Mendoza was 3 years old when her parents brought her to the U.S. from Mexico. Being undocumented was a dark secret that kept her family in fear.

Mendoza said she started the process of "proving her existence" when she obtained her kindergarten certificate. She's now the proud owner of a Social Security card, driver's license and worker's permit.

"I had so much stress lifted off me," Mendoza said. "I don't have to worry about applying for jobs or school. It opened up so many doors."

One of those doors opened at the College of DuPage culinary school, where Mendoza is majoring in pastry making. This, in turn, led to a paid internship at Disney World.

Meanwhile, Felipe Hernandez joined LOYAL in October 2012. He was 6 years old when he entered the U.S. on a visa with his mother and younger brother.

The CoD student spoke during Saturday's rally.

"I have learned and grown so much. I’ve learned leadership skills," he said. "I felt closer and stronger with other undocumented people."

Munguia was reminded of her status when she used her consulate ID card and it wasn't accepted everywhere.

"I couldn't get a library card, or take out books," said Munguia, who finally got her documentation last December. "It was a nice Christmas present. My parents were happy. But I didn't celebrate because others, like my brother and parents, don't qualify."

She was 11 when her parents brought her and her 3-year-old brother to the U.S. She also grew up in fear of discovery.

"You can be undocumented but unafraid," Munguia said. "That’s why we’re coming out of the shadows into the streets. The ICE will not stop us.”

Previous Page|1|2|Next Page

Get breaking and town-specific news sent to your phone. Sign up for text alerts from the Suburban Life Media.

Watch Now

Player embeded on all SLM instances for analytics purposes.

Sandburg calls out 3 schools for ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

More videos »
 

Reader Poll

What are you most looking forward to this fall?
The food
The leaves changing colors
Cooler weather
Holidays