By Thailandia Alafitta
On Friday, November 25th, DREAMers lost a brother in the struggle, Joaquin Luna. Joaquin was a DREAMer from Mission, TX, a border town, where undocumented students are further imprisoned as the multiple checkpoints make it nearly impossible to even get out of the small confines of their town.
Joaquin was born in Miguel Aleman, Tamaulipas, and was brought to the United States at 6 months. He was adopted by his aunt and uncle because his birth mother was not in full capacity to properly take care of him. Unfortunately, they could not fix his legal status, and he was caught in limbo like the rest of us.
On Friday, Joaquin dressed up in a nice suit, kissed his mother and his father goodbye, and then headed straight for the restroom where he shot himself with a small handgun leaving behind his dreams, letting them evaporate into thin air. He wanted to become an engineer. He was going to graduate in May with honors. Just five more months. He had a full ride to many prestigious universities one of them being Texas A&M University, he could’ve been an Aggie, like me, like all my Aggie DREAMer brothers and sisters, and then, he would have found us, we would have found him. But there’s no sense in reminiscing on what could have been. The damage is done, and 2 million other DREAMers have lost a brother and are mourning, all around the country in solidarity with his friends and loved ones.
Maybe it is our fault, for not reaching out to the Valley sooner, for not expanding faster.
“Having a DREAM Act organization in place here in the Valley might’ve helped,” said Marie Mendoza, Joaquin’s cousin. “These kids need a support system, there’s so many of them here, so close to the border.”
Maybe it is the broken immigration system that’s really getting the best of all of us.
“There has to be one president that will do something for undocumented students,” said Mendoza. “One president that can pass the DREAM Act.”
We all feel the way Joaquin did at some point or another, but brothers and sisters in the struggle, this is not the answer. Life for us is pretty sad at times, pretty gray, and uncertain, but something will happen for us. Because no good people ever go unnoticed, because no good fight is ever lost.
Let’s not remember Joaquin for what happened on Friday, let’s remember him for the person he was and for the everlasting impact he has made on all of our lives. As DREAMers let’s remember that the DREAM Act does not define us, and that we are so many other things aside from DREAM. Joaquin was a good person, he was very involved in church, spent a lot of time there, and he was always very respectful. His teachers loved him, he was never any trouble in school or at home, and he was kind-hearted.
“He would take his shirt off his back just to give it to you if you needed it,” his cousin told me.
I didn’t know Joaquin, but I knew his heart, I knew his struggle, I knew his pain. They always tell us that things have to get worse before they get better, but for us, it seems to only get worse. Rest assured, things have to get better. And if this doesn’t soften some hardened hearts, then I don’t know what will. As I’m writing this, it is tough to write it without tearing up.
I didn’t know Joaquin, but I’ve had many late night calls from DREAMers, who are having a total breakdown because they’ve allowed themselves to process in their minds and hearts, what it means to be undocumented in this country. Sometimes, I’ve made those late night calls. As a DREAMer, you can’t let your thoughts wander past hope and belief; past that there’s only uncertainty and emptiness, it’ll drive you mad.
I didn’t know Joaquin, but I am Joaquin.