In the last year, it’s been apparent that my simple state of being is under threat and open for scrutiny and debate. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an executive order enacted by Obama in July 2012, afforded me the ability to drive and to work legally without fear of deportation. On a personal level, DACA allowed me to accept funding to pursue my master’s at the University of Iowa in Fall 2013. I surrounded myself with potted plants to create a sense of comfort and security during my travel to a new land, the Midwest.
In order to qualify for DACA, nearly 800,000 undocumented youth have had to prove our existence by collecting and presenting to the government ephemera, bills, school report cards, social media posts, mail, and receipts. How is it that the government trusts and honors papers over the people they represent? The process of applying and reapplying for DACA ingrained in me the habit of holding on to envelopes, whether from the government, loved ones, museums and galleries, my husband. By painting the envelopes, I’d like to believe I am no longer just a passive force in this unbalanced relationship I have with the government.
When asked, “Where is home?” I often reply, “Home is where the plants are.” During the five years I held DACA, I traveled the country. Along the way I collected, was gifted, and sprouted plants. They are a map of relationships and my last five years living in and out of the Midwest. For this reason, none of my plants are able to be rooted to any land.