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Sunday, November 20, 2016


The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is a policy created by latest President Obama back in 2012 to help certain undocumented young people brought to the country as children. This policy brought hope for (especially) millions of students across the country trying to go to college. A DACA recipient does not get legal status, but it does allow them to get a Social Security Number and a work permit which they have to pay for and renew every so often.
Now, the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act was a bill (with several versions) introduced to the Congress since 2001, but it never passed; this potential legislation (just as the DACA recipients) enabled the eligible candidates for work permit, social security, and driver's license (this latter being denied to DACA recipients in the beginning). Unlike DACA recipients, the DREAM Act could have enabled a green card to be granted.
Taken from the (many times rejected) bill, the term "DREAMer" has become to describe the undocumented youth who have big plans for their future in the only country they know; the country they consider home.
Let me introduce you to Fatima, a (person that I can luckily call) friend and a wonderful human being.

"My name is Fatima Flores Lagunas, I was born in Mexico, but raised in the USA. If I had to identify myself, I would say that I am an aunt, a daughter, and an activist searching to find equality beyond the stigma that we [Latinos] have now. A person trying to make a positive change in the world and leave it a little different that when I came in.
[I am young] And had you asked me [What does Fatima do for fun?] years ago, my answer would have been totally different. But beyond my activist work and working full time, I find a lot of pleasure in just going home at the end of the day, watching Netflix, a glass of wine, spending time with my family, carne asada during the summer, taking walks, doing photography, rocking out in my car when I'm driving. I take pleasure in the little things in life.
I'm a part of a non-profit the Heartland Workers Center and the Young Nebraskans in Action which is a group of motivated individuals that really want a positive change for the youth in Omaha. So those two are my main objectives right now; social work has always been part of my upbringing.
How did I become involved with these organizations I am in, you may ask? When I was younger, I used to think, "I'm a fifteen-year-old girl that really doesn’t know what to do with her life amongst many other things, so how can I make a change? How can I make something positive with so many obstacles around me?" Fast forward ten years, and that's completely different; I'm a leader, I'm just a person that cares. I became involved with the Heartland Workers Center through my own volition; I realized that I didn’t agree with a lot of the decisions that were being made for the youth here in Nebraska, and I was tired of living in this society that I was not welcomed in.

 My entire life I felt prosecuted because I was an undocumented immigrant, it was a choice made by my parents to improve our way of life, and I don’t think is fair that because of a decision that another person makes we should be judged harshly. So my involvement began last year in October, I held an event at House of Loom that focused on the importance of voting, awareness for Dreamers, and the impact made when you vote. It was right before our state election time so I realized that we could change the governor that we had, we could change a lot of the senators that were in office because it wasn’t fair that because of their decisions my life was impacted. So I hosted the event at the House of Loom, we had a lot of key speakers that shared their input about how these issues affected them. We had Justice for Our Neighbors, they're a legal advocate group here in Omaha that are pro-bono for their clients; the Heartland Workers Center; the Democratic State candidate David Domina who is pro-Dreamers, and unfortunately he did not get elected, but it was amazing to hear he was willing to make changes; we had  a lot of DACA recipients, and a lot of supporters and allies who gave their two cents in how these issues affected them. From that event I met the Heartland Workers Center, and I just jumped on board with them because since the legislative session was going to begin on January, we wanted to introduce a bill that would change the law at the time.

Jeremy Nordquist, the state senator at the time, really took the bill (LB623 to authorize younger Dreamers and DACA recipients in the state of Nebraska to obtain drivers licenses) and ran with it because he was very supportive of the youth; he took time to sit down and listen to our stories which I feel a lot of people don't realize how important that is because you know the issue but once you put a face to it, it becomes something that you care about, so the fact that all these kids came to him asking for help, he was like ABSOLUTELY. We introduced the bill, and from there it took flight; we weren't expecting the amount of support that we got, but the mayor of Omaha jumped on board, the Omaha, Nebraska, and Lincoln Chamber of Commerce; the Nebraska Cattlemen Association, and many other institutions showed their support. It was such a empowering time because all my life I was told that I was wrong, that I was not supposed to be here, that I am a criminal, that I cheat the system, and that I am taking away the State benefits. I've known different because of the support from my parents; they’ve always said they're doing what's best for me, we are here to stay, we're not here to take advantage from anybody. My parents worked three or four jobs when I was growing up, so it wasn't like we were out to look for the easy way; their support protected me from believing what those people said.
When I shared my story with the senators, they told me I am just as Nebraskan as they are; Spanish is my first language, but there was a time when English began dominating because it was [part of] my daily life. I grew up with the American ideals, but also respecting my Mexican culture; in their eyes I am as American as they are, only difference is that I unfortunately wasn’t born here, but we shouldn’t be prosecuted because of it.

After that, we sat down with a lot of senators, and they got to know
us as people which I think is really powerful because they actually believed in us. A lot of them didn’t know what DACA was, they had no idea what a Dreamer was, and it's not like they didn't know, but it just didn’t affect them; you know, they grew up in a different life, they weren't aware of the people in the community. So I guess education and involvement are the biggest key in this project.

I got to speak at the Capitol, and I gave my testimony which made me feel validated because I was looking at the people making a decision for my life, and the fact that I look at them and I told them "YOU'RE STABBING ME ON THE BACK, YOU'RE FORCING ME OUT OF MY HOME. SOMETHING I HAVE DONE ONCE, AND I DON'T FEEL LIKE DOING AGAIN." If you want to change the way the system is currently running, it is up to you. We had overwhelming support; we had, I believe the total of three opponents in a room of over 200 people, and I think the committee really took that seriously. It was beyond just a few kids getting together presenting this bill; it was a population showing their support. It wasn't surprising that the governor vetoed it, we knew that he wasn't supportive of Dreamers, but we had enough votes to overcome it, so the effort and time put into this project and winning, it was empowering, a sense of victory that I've never felt before. It was the first time in my life that actively stood up and presented myself.

[Today] I'm making it my career for the person that doesn’t know yet, or the person that's afraid to. Coming out of the shadows is not easy; I remember when I gave my first news interview, I was a ball of nerves because I hadn't even told my friends about my status; they found out through the news because I was that afraid that they wouldn’t want to be my friends, that they would look at me as a criminal, that they were going to think I'm a bad person; but I had to throw caution to the wind and not only speak for myself, but for all the other kids in this country. Personally, I'm going to finish my degree, I'm a Political Science and Psychology major, and my long time goal is to become a State senator in the State of the Nebraska which is more down the road, but everything I am doing now is leading me to that position. I feel like a State senator you really have a key role in changing the way the State works.

Who inspires me to keep going? I'd say the leaders that I met through my work. Ruth Marimo, an LGBTQ and Immigration activist. The women and men from the Heartland Workers Center very involved in social changes, selfless people that don't like to see others suffer. The Dreamers and DACA, although they may not be as active (in the project) as I am, they still have the same needs.
But if I had to say the person I admire the most would be my mom because she came to this country with the clothes on her back, the ambition in her heart, the sweat, blood and tears that a hard-worker has. She is my rock, if anything, she is the person I aspire to be; she is very loving and accepting, she's very hopeful. She always has a positive outlook.

[Lastly] I want people to know that hope should always remain. As an undocumented immigrant and as a queer woman, I felt like giving up, but I want you to know that I won't. One way or the other we will make a positive change for you. At the end of the day, everything I do, is for the people that are affected by these issues. If you need someone to talk to, I have a few people I can put you in contact with, but please don’t lose hope. Like the saying goes, IT DOES GET BETTER!


UPDATE. From the time this interview took place to date, Fatima has accepted a full time position at Heartland Workers Center, and she recommends the following places:

If you want to actively volunteer to make changes in the community:

  • Heartland Workers Center
  • Young Nebraskans in Action
And for legal (free) advice:
  • Justice for our Neighbors
  • ACLU of Nebraska for legal advice.

If you have any other questions, feel free to contact her at fatima1280@yahoo.com

...Relax. Take it Easy.

Strong Enough

 The Omaha World-Herald newspaper ran an article by Dirk Chatelain that extended to almost two pages, and with great reason! The subject was Adam Dejka, a senior at Papillion-La Vista South.

Now, Adam's case is pretty severe, from what I've read, but I just want to highlight his will to excel regardless of the situation. I hope you get a copy of this article and read it because he is the reason why I am here today to talk about anxiety and its effect on my life. Adam has paved the way and showed strength throughout his entire life, and I think it is time to speak out and let others know that they're not alone --the same way Adam's story made me feel.

One thing you should know about me is, I love talking to people, meeting new people, getting to know their stories. I believe I am a good listener and a good friend, but I am terrified of people! I know it doesn't make sense, but I don't know how else to explain it. As I type this and think about being social, I am trembling and my heart rate is going 100mph. I feel my body heavy and light at the same time, and it gets hard to breathe, and the physical pain on my chest, back, arms, and legs is unreasonable. The whole experience leaves me exhausted, a tingle through my body, and with a headache. The worst is not knowing when it's going to happen; I know being out surrounded by big crowds is a trigger, but it doesn't occur frequently. I still try to avoid them anyway.

I remember I was 14 years old when I went to a teacher and tried to tell her about this, but she gave me a smirk and said, "It's all in your head, Adrian." And I was dismissed. For the longest time, I kept it all in my head, to myself; after all, nobody likes a drama queen, an attention seeker. So I found ways to release the fear, stress, or worries; from pinching, to hitting myself with a rubber band, to cutting. I have been shamed to reveal this part of my life, one because I'm a male and two because (again) nobody likes "petty" people playing the victim.

When I turned 21 and I started to go out, I had to drink to remain "social".  I know my limit, and I know when to stop, but I couldn't let that become a habit. I am not financially stable to drink my social anxiety away. But more that anything, I am not going to risk myself and others by driving under the influence. I do not want to depend on alcohol to make the moment count. I don't want to make memories that I won't even remember.

     So the people that have read this blog from day one, you may have noticed whenever I attended a show or event, I always mentioned I got my usual drink (Jack & Coke, if you feel generous when you see me out). I am not an alcoholic, I can promise you that. I knew that three drinks were my limit to avoid awkwardness and drunkenness; just the perfect buzz "to have fun." I justified my actions by telling myself that I am an adult and I can do as I please. Well, not so much! As I was told by a very loving person I know, "No one can do whatever they want as long as there is someone that cares about them."

A coworker kept insisting until I finally talked to my doctor about this issue, and I am now on medication. It is embarrassing to come clean about this, but Adam's story made me feel strong enough to do so. I do not know if Adam is on meds, and it's irrelevant, but I do know that I am not alone. Coworkers and friends also suffer of anxiety, beautiful people that I never thought would have anything to be anxious about! But reality is, it can happen to anyone. It varies from person to person. But it still sucks nonetheless.

If there is anything you can get out of this post, don't let it be the curiosity of what pills I am on. Instead, please be the ally to people coming to you for help or just an ear to listen. Don't be like that teacher I went up to for help, with the little and all strength my teen self gathered; she shooed me away stating that depression and anxiety only happens to women. If a person approaches you with something (anything!), it must be because they appreciate and value your opinion. Stay strong out there and keep taking one day at the time!

...Relax. Take it Easy.


     In times of violence, there is a need for coming together as community and speak up. It is our given right. But you cannot fight fire with fire. Dear Mother Theresa put it in simple, YET remarkable words: "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."

I have been mentally disconnected from social media platforms because of the political discussions everywhere. I did not express any of my sentiments online -mind you I am gay, Mexican, and with my legal status in jeopardy. I am not going to justify my actions. I am not going to explain myself. Regardless the implications of my silence or the few words I've spoken. Am I scared to be deported? Ha, give me a few minutes to laugh. Am I a coward for keeping quiet? It is your given right to think as you will. Am I on the wrong side of history in the making? No, I am right in the middle. Not neutral, but angry at both sides going back and forth. Sure, you may say that my stance doesn't do any good, but neither does violence, petty online arguments, or blaming others. If anything at all, I am hurt to see people ending long-time friendships, divided by hatred, one way or another. If I must disclose my convictions, then I'll say I am  disappointed to see the true colors of humanity.

                                                                      And that being said...
Hello, my name is Adrian (in case you ran into this blog by mistake, or you were referred here). As I had written in past posts, I have created this blog to put myself outside of my comfort zone and try things that I normally would not do. Rejection, fear, and ridicule have factored in making my anxiety and social skills a living nightmare. I am an extrovert trapped in a box I built throughout the years and now the walls are too thick to break down; but I have taken bigger steps and there is so much more to accomplish. So please join me in this journey of self-discovery as I share with you everything that I plan to do, the experience itself, and what I learn from it. Don't be upset if I fail to come through in certain situations; believe me that I will try my best and go for it, but some times it's strenuous to take a step. I may sound over-dramatic, but unfortunately, that's exactly how it feels. Anyhow, I am here to spread joy and hope. I am here to help others in any way I can, while doing so, I help myself. Remember, "be the change you want to see in the world."

Now, just a little taste of what my old posts were about, here I leave you with Adam's story and his struggle with anxiety. As well as Fatima's road to success.
Let me know what you think, and make sure to follow me on all social media platforms. You'll find the links right above the post title. Feel free to reach out and talk to me.

...Relax. Take it Easy.