The National Immigrant Youth Alliance is at the helm of this year's National Coming Out of the shadows week of action.  With events scheduled across the country, the NIYA has developed a toolkit and coming out guide for undocumented, unafraid and unapologetic community members and activists at all levels of involvement that includes: How to tell Your Story; Taking Action Online; and Why Come Out?

Continuing our I Am storytelling series, Fanny Martinez shares her story with Drop the I-Word. The story below is from a speech Martinez gave as she participated at The Coming Out of The Shadows rally in collaboration with The Immigrant youth Justice League, Nuestra Voz and the Latino Youth Action League which Martinez is a part of.

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I define myself. My name is Fanny. 

By Fanny Martinez


My name is Fanny. I'm undocumented. I am a graduate student and an army wife.

Every time I talk to people who don't understand how the immigration system works, I get the same response: "you are married to a U.S. citizen who is an Army reservist. You have nothing to worry about. You should be able to fix your papers in no time."

Unfortunately, that's not my reality. David and I have been married for 4 years and every time I try to adjust my status we are told that I should wait until the DREAM Act gets passed because we cannot prove enough "hardship" to stay in the U.S.

I cannot understand why a military family has to go through this struggle. No one talks about what it means to be an "undocumented army spouse."  Before my husband's deployment, I went to a family event. They prepared us for the hard transition, but didn't address how my undocumented status would lead me to feel disconnected, different, and isolated. Did any of the Army officers know that every time I heard the word "deployment" fear and frustration were killing me inside? Maybe. But they didn't understand my fear of being deported because that meant I might not be here when David got home.

As an army wife I gave a service to this country. Through each phone call, text message, skype session and letter, I made sure to provide my soldier with the love and support that he needed.  Now that he's home, I feel like the least I deserve is to live with my husband, without fear.  I think that going through a deployment is more than enough "hardship." If this government really values military families, they must do something to ensure the well-being of my family. 

My husband needs me now just as much as he needed me while he was deployed. I'm college graduate and will get my masters degree soon, but I can't get a job. I can't even help my husband pay for groceries, rent, gas, and other expenses.  I feel helpless. I don't want to be a burden. 

I want to feel independent and capable of providing for my family.

I'm strong and I will keep fighting until politicians stop playing games with my life. If they continue saying that I'm a criminal in this society, I will continue to prove them wrong! I'm a valuable human being, Army wife, and graduate student.

I define myself. My name is Fanny.  I'm undocumented, unafraid and unapologetic!

From Fanny and David: We define ourselves. We are an undocumented family. We are unafraid and unapologetic!