Going to jury duty for the first time was a mix of emotions ranging from, I’m the youngest one here, to can I even legally be here?I say legally because I am DACAmented; which to me is a way of life. It stands for my transition from undocumented to being legalized through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an order that president Obama signed in 2012 giving qualifying applicants between the ages 16-30, the right to live legally in the U.S for two years.
The way it works is, you get a work permit and varying by state it allows you to obtain a state ID and driver’s license. In Illinois you are allowed to get the driver’s license and state ID and it is through the state ID that I ended up chosen for jury duty. As my law teacher in high school explained, every few years they pick people from the donors list and I am on the list, so I was chosen.
This to me seems crazy because I never encounter other DACAmented people in my situation. In the midst of it, I felt scared of what could happen to me. I started talking to other friends in similar situations; they didn’t know it was possible either. The day of jury duty I waited hours for my panel number to be called, it never did. As I was waiting, I began to reflect on my experience as a Dacamented womyn.
My reflection went like this:
“Land of the Free
Where the rich run and the poor are locked up
People waiting in lines to stand trials
Just to find that the justice system fails us
Telling me that I am legal for two years
People cross borders and spend whole lives waiting on green paper that ain’t coming
People celebrating giving thanks killing each other for flat screens
My brothers and sisters fought too hard for my education
I can’t give up
I am not wanted, implied in unconstitutional misinformation telling me I am only allowed the privilege to a 12th
Quickly forgetting my rights
YOU call me for jury duty for being on the donors’ list that my people, my parents can’t get donations from
You’re quick to ask, but not quick to give
Where is the government’s money to fund my education?
Where is my right to go back to my country?
Where is my right to vote?
Things that upset me, you give an Americanized school experience
Giving me heroes that look nothing like me
Instead of teaching me
I gain skills on self-assertiveness
I learn the true lesson on socioeconomic status rules, a person life in capitalist America
I learn that just being an open DACAmented muxer is radical
I learn that people who look like me are expected to work blue collar jobs like our parents
You only look at us when elections come
Filling my people with hope
Ending in disillusion
Innocent people behind bars mounting up in county jails getting thrown into corners
So sad that a country built on immigrants won’t see that migration is a human right
So many lost souls trying to make it to the American dream
Expecting streets paved with gold
Instead getting dehumanized because without the green paper you don’t exist
Can’t even get a library card
Staying strong and fearing La PoliMigra
Trying to survive in capitalist America
Not an easy task
America takes, but never fully gives” – Carolina Gallo
About Carolina Gallo: She is a 19 year-old Xicana storyteller from Chicago’s Southside, originally from Jalisco, Mexico. Carolina likes to tell the stories of marginalized inner city residents because she feels their perspective is crucial to the city’s growth. Currently attending Harold Washington College working on her Associates in Art, she plans to transfer to UIC for Urban Planning and Latino Studies. Her work has been published in Young Chicago Authors, The Chicago Beat and The Division Street: The Remix Sessions (a recreation of Studs Terkel’s book, Division Street America). Her goal as a storyteller is to continue to empower people by giving them a voice.