Undocumented Oregon immigrants share their stories in "Dreams Deferred" at the Oregon Historical Society

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Air date: 
Thu, 01/23/2020 - 5:30pm


Thousands of undocumented immigrants in Oregon have been living in the shadows.

But now, as the Supreme Court may soon hear the DACA case this year, some are coming out and telling their stories.

Many came to the U.S. when they were young, and have built their lives here.

About a half dozen of their stories are on the walls of the Oregon Historical Society now through mid-April for a special exhibit called “Dreams Deferred.” KBOO’s Annette Newell went to the opening of that exhibit in downtown Portland, and talked to one of the immigrants, Liliana Luna, as she showed and shared her story.

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Audio Transcript

Annette Newell  0:00  
So where are you? Oh, okay, that's that's you? Wow.

Liliana Luna  0:04  
It's me and my... somewhere in there.

Annette Newell  0:08  
How does it make you feel to see this? 

Liliana Luna  0:11  
I never thought I would see myself here. 

Annette Newell  0:12  
So there you are-- Liliana Luna.

Liliana Luna  0:15  

Annette Newell  0:16  
"Dreaming Beyond Borders" is the name of the- How does it make you feel to see this? 

Liliana Luna  0:20  
To be honest, I see Liliana. [laughs] I-I- the only thing that I can tell you is, I see her I acknowledge all the things that she has gone through. And I am so- I admire her. I don't know how she did it. I really don't know. There's a part of me that feels- feels kind of detached from the emotion because I lived it, but just seeing her, I feel like oh my gosh, she has gone through a lot. I've never- been to these- um to this museum before to acknowledge the history of Oregon, but I never thought I would have been part of it. 

Annette Newell  0:52  
Yeah, yeah, that's- that's really neat. You're one of the dream-

Liliana Luna  0:55  
 Yeah, one of the dreamers. It started a lot of stuff since 2012 I think we came out- came out of the shadows and said that we were undocumented and got arrested. At that point, I almost faced deportation because I got arrested and got processed through immigration. But I always knew my rights and I always knew, to be honest, I always knew with- that I'm doing is not wrong. I'm just here to continue my journey in this world. And in this life, for me, borders have nothing to do with my destiny and have nothing to do with the gift that I have to give to people. So right now, as a therapist, I'm here to working with families that are families, couples, and individuals that are healing from traumatic events. So for me, no borders will stop me from doing that. So that's- that's- that's how I feel and I wish that everybody would feel that, I think we would all be- you know- super free and more in tune with our- with what we want to do if borders were not exist, or we wouldn't appear borders, and that's how I feel. 

Annette Newell  1:49  
Yeah, I talked with um, Miguel, and I guess he's got a permanent resident status. Is that for you also? 

Liliana Luna  1:55  
No, no, no, I'm still undocumented. I have DACA. I have DACA. Yeah, that's what this is so- so in that sense, yes, in one way, I'm kind of waiting on another hand, I'm not waiting anymore. On the another hand, I started my own business and, and I am giving back to society. And I am not depending on the government at this point. And I feel pretty confident at this point, you know, if they decide to deport us, I feel- I think I would take life, I would take my time somewhere else. 

Annette Newell  2:26  
Yeah, but I feel how long have you been here in the United States?

Liliana Luna  2:29  
Since 2005, I don't know, how long has that been?

Annette Newell  2:32  
And you came from, let me see. Are you from-

Liliana Luna  2:34  
Mexico? Yeah, I gave my whole life immigrating. Within Mexico and then came- I used to live in the border with Texas. So I knew- I was very familiar with me- with the United States. And I didn't want to come here because I knew, I knew how, you know, the environment, the loss and how we would be treated. And I didn't want to be here, but in Mexico, the drug cartels are, you know, a lot of activities. I'm here now I'm very thankful that I went through this journey. This is truly- I feel it's been a journey of a lot of learning and for me one way that I see this event, as well as kind of like the ending of some cycles, of feeling like oh my God, I've gone through a lot to like,  right now seeing her like I said, and feeling super proud of all the things that she's done. 

Annette Newell  3:16  
So you went to PSU. What did you study? 

Liliana Luna  3:19  
So my my bachelor's was in criminology and criminal justice and my master's is in family and couples counseling. 

Annette Newell  3:25  

Liliana Luna  3:25  

Annette Newell  3:26  
Congratulations. You got to be open about this.

Liliana Luna  3:28  
Yeah, very good.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai