My name is Raymi Gutierrez, I am 23 years old from Salt Lake City, Utah. As long as I can remember, my family and I had always feared being discovered and separated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). I am the first born citizen and the middle child of nine. My four older siblings and my parents were all undocumented. We’ve lived in the U.S. for 20+ years and this is our home.
The importance of education was always lectured by my father growing up. He and my mother sacrificed their dreams and left all that they knew in Bolivia for me and my siblings to succeed in life. My parent’s broke their backs in working physically demanding jobs. They were very strict to make sure I, my brothers, and sisters studied hard. My older siblings always stressed me to take advantage of the opportunities and privileges I had as a citizen such as applying for scholarships and jobs, obtaining a driver’s license, voting, etc. They’ve been my support and showed me how to accomplish many things. At the same time, I witnessed my them struggle through obstacles and limitations of being undocumented. Now it’s my turn to do for them what they did for me.
I recently got involved in this movement years after an incident back in 2008. The day after Christmas, my father summoned my older siblings together in the front room to hand them their deportation letters, a total of six. My former brother-in-law, who at the time was going through a divorce with my sister, turned my family into ICE. It was hard to grasp that I was going to lose over half of my family for such a selfish act, but we fought their stay. Our attorneys were able to help all but two with their status, the DREAMers in my family, my brother with a Bachelors degree in Business Marketing and Business Management, and my sister who is striving for International studies and speaks 3 languages. They are currently in limbo and there is no law that would help them fix their status, and so we hoped for the DREAM Act in 2010. After it failed to pass by only 5 votes, that hope died in them. That was when I realized that it was NOT enough to just sit back and hope. I realized that I needed to get involved if I wanted the DREAM Act to pass. I fight for my family and my community. It is my turn to help them and keep their hopes ALIVE. They are the most talented and driven individuals I know. They hold so much potential to great success. If the DREAM Act were to pass, these two would be able to contribute more than they already have to this society.
Since I’ve been involved in this movement, I’ve realized that I am no longer fighting for two, but two million brothers and sisters who are restricted by their status, and more. The DREAM Act will pass because there are so many who continue the fight. It is a battle to win, a step for our families in this struggle. To me, this walk represents the many sacrifices and journeys many parents have made for an American dream. A dream that their children grow up in a better life accomplish their dreams. I know that my siblings and I want to do so to take care of our parents so that their burnt bodies, callused hands, and broken backs can finally be at peace after years of hard work.