If you're like most people, your Instagram feed is populated with food, vacations, selfies and cats. And then there's the Undocumented Lives account -- containing, as an example, a photograph by Diana Clock, in which a 19-year-old named Bismark stands in front of a college building with a stare at once hopeful and apprehensive. The caption, culled from an interview with Melissa Pandika, shares that Bismark crossed the U.S.-Mexico border at 17 years old, with brother and sister in tow.
“We're terrified of what might happen, but that’s not going to deter us from anything. It just means that I have to take more precautions, and speak to my parents and my siblings about what we can and can't do anymore,” Bismark is quoted saying. “We're saving up money, making sure we all know how to confront an ICE agent. … Making sure our house, at least, is somewhere we can feel safe."
Bismark is 19 years old, undocumented and queer. At only 7 years old, Bismark came across the U.S.-Mexico border unaccompanied, along with their brother and sister. Now in college, they are a lead organizer with the North Bay Immigrant Youth Union, which fights for undocumented youth and the larger immigrant community. The group organizes rallies and workshops, and has reached out to local officials in favor of initiatives that would keep immigrants out of the detention and deportation system. Bismark is also a DACA recipient. - On recent government actions and their DACA status: "Obviously, it's really scary to realize that the government has so much information on us. And that they're going to be able to use that information as they wish. We're terrified of what might happen, but thats not going to deter us from anything. It just means that I have to take more precautions, and speak to my parents and my siblings about what we can and can't do anymore, and how we can prepare ourselves for deportation proceedings if that were to happen. We're saving up money, making sure we all know how to confront an ICE agent. What to do, what not to do. Making sure our house, at least, is somewhere we can feel safe." - #undocumented #dreamact #daca #immigration #undocumentedstudents #immigrationreform #undocumentedandunafraid #resist #humanrights #immigrantnation #undocuqueer #refugeerights #socialjustice #choosehumanity #heretostay #immigration #migration #nobannowall #wmaga
Bismark -- a college student and lead organizer with North Bay Immigrant Youth Union, which advocates for undocumented youth -- is one of many undocumented students that Bay Area journalists Clock and Pandika photographed and interviewed over the past year as part of their ongoing project, Undocumented Lives. Their intention: to provide a platform for undocumented youth to counter conservative narratives about migrants by telling their own stories.
“Much of the coverage on undocumented immigrants I had encountered tended to describe them as this faceless, monolithic group,” writes Pandika over email. “I wanted to learn about who these immigrants were, beyond the statistics and political debate, but as individuals, each with unique stories.”
Pandika's own parents lived undocumented in the United States for a short time, and she always had trouble placing herself in their shoes when hearing their stories, she says. When she began the project last year, “I wanted to understand further what it means to be young and undocumented in the U.S. -- especially in the face of a possible Trump presidency -- and help others do the same.”