Though Stephanie was born in Mexico, they left when they were two and have no memories of there, as they have never been able to return. On the other hand, they grew up in a community in Southern California with many others from similar backgrounds who supported one another in a variety of ways—indeed, they explicitly say that their strength comes from that community. They exchange emotional, tangible, and informational supports that are invaluable and life-sustaining.
It is (as they say) “an open secret” that many others in the community are Undocu (the affectionate term they use to describe members of the undocumented community). While some young people do not realize their situation until mid-adolescence, at milestone moments such as applying for a driver’s license or going to college, Stephanie recognized her family’s and her own precarious situation early in her childhood. They vividly recall a moment in their early elementary years when they were walking with their mother as they pushed a stroller and realized as an ICE vehicle passed that they could be deported at any moment.
In their adolescence and in college, they become actively involved in activism to promote change, though they confide, “Activism is exhausting.” Juggling, navigating their own status, helping their family, being a good student, working, being in survival mode, and healing traumas have stretched them thin. During the interview, they lament, “I am too tired to be the change I want to see in the world.” “And I am only 23.”
Stephanie also shares insights into how intersecting identities play a role in complexifying their developmental journey. As they say, “I am Brown, Undocu, and queer.” They find the UC Berkeley community a particularly welcoming place to first openly disclose and then explore those intersecting complexities.
Despite the challenges of their journey, Stephanie’s friends see them as warm, humorous, and engaging. Their interview sheds light again on how their Undocu status complicates access to resources and imposes precarity and uncertainty on what should be a promising life pathway.
Listen to Stephanie’s story Here