Honoring Joaquin Luna and Young People Everywhere
Joaquin Luna was just like anybody else. He was a high school student. He was a young man who lived with his family. He was also a person who lived with the challenges of being undocumented. He was at the beginning of his life before it all ended, in part because he felt he had no other option. Tragically, we remember Joaquin today as a person whose light was extinguished too early, and it is for Joaquin and the many others like him that we must continue our fight.
Joaquin’s death is felt deeply within the immigrant rights community, not only because it was a life lost too soon, but because it brings to light a too often ignored issue: depression. Especially in the last year, DREAMers have been taken on a roller coaster ride of emotions; moments of great hope as well as moments of deep sadness. The ups and downs make the questions arise quickly and without prompting – how come I can’t? When do I get the chance? Where is my victory? Depression can make the darkness feel overwhelming but what we all need to remember is it’s not. We must have patience and faith that that day will come and when we falter, let us take strength in our community and our network
The DREAM youth of the United States are a force to be reckoned with and there is victory in the future. It may not seem possible at the moment, but consider past victories that have changed the course of history. At one point – interracial and same sex marriage was impossible. At another point, women’s suffrage was a dream of its own. Like the many marginalized groups that have risen up, that have said we will overcome, the immigrant rights community must band together and say enough is enough. We will remember Joaquin as a person of endless possibilities and because of him we must reaffirm our commitment to this just cause of reform.
While many of our home cultures may not recognize it, depression is a very real problem for many in the movement. Seeking help in times of need is one of the greatest signs of strength. Your are not alone, help is only as far as a friend, your house of worship, a trusted teacher, or a counselor. The beauty of working in a movement is that when we feel that we have no hope left, we have many we can borrow it from. If you or anyone you know feels depressed or even suicidal, please seek help or call any one of the following resources:
- LIFELINE National Suicide Prevention hotline 1-800-273 Talk (8255) http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
- The Door 212-941-9090 Front Desk ext. 3249, Counseling ext. 3291. http://www.door.org/ The door offers free one-on-one counseling, group counseling, anger management, art therapy, music therapy, crisis intervention, and other supportive services.
- CUNY Campus Counseling Centers: http://www.cuny.edu/about/administration/offices/sa/services/counseling/campus-centers.html
We need each other to stay strong and healthy if we are going to win. For Joaquin’s sake, for all the Dreamers that remain in the fight, and for those who will come after us and benefit from our victories.
Yesterday, Tucson Citizen.com got permission from Joaquin’s family member to publish an essay he had written called, “Fulfilling a dream in waiting…”
In his essay, he writes,
“The sound of being the first one of my family graduating from college makes me want it more because I want to prove not only to myself but to many other people especially my own sisters that even because we don’t have the financial support doesnt mean we need to quit in fulfilling want we always wanted to. That right there would really complete my dream.”
Joaquin Luna was hardworking and brave. We honor him and continue the struggle to achieve his dream.
Written by: Juan Ramirez; Image by: Julio Salgado