by féi hernandez
After José Olivares’ “(Citizen)(Illegal)”
Mexican woman (illegal) and Mexican boy (illegal)
arrive to Inglewood (hood) from Mexico (illegal) and meet
American (Black) culture. Mexican woman (illegal)
scrubs toilets for rich white women (American) with her Mexican (illegal)
brown hands, while Mexican boy (illegal) learns African American Vernacular
(Black)(American) in a public school (hood). Does accepting their “alien”
status make Mexican woman (illegal) and Mexican boy (illegal) more American (citizen)?
If the boy doesn’t remember the old country and claims Inglewood (Black)(hood) his country
does that make him more citizen (American)? If the Mexican woman forgets her baby’s daddy and her native country is she more American (citizen) than Mexican (illegal)? If both
the Mexican woman and the Mexican boy are light skint (white), yet undocumented (illegal), are they more safe (American)? If Mexican woman (illegal) and Mexican boy (illegal) steal
what they can’t afford from K-Mart or Sav-On should they be criminalized (illegal) for their survival? What can the Mexican woman (illegal) and the Mexican boy (illegal) do to pursue their
American Dream without persecution or deportation (illegal), if anything all?
In the face of immigration officer Mexican woman speaks in broken English (illegal). USCIS agent (white) looks at her passport (Mexican) and looks back at her (white). Then looks at the
Mexican boy (illegal) fluent in English (American) and looks down at his passport (Mexican), then at
him again (white). The USCIS agent (white) looks at the Mexican woman’s
newly wed husband (Mexican)(citizen). USCIS agent (white) looks at the husband’s passport
(American). If the USCIS agent (white) doesn’t believe their marriage will ICE take them away
(illegal)? If the USCIS agent (white) signs immigration packet are the Mexican woman (illegal) and the Mexican boy (illegal) safe (American)(citizen)?
If Mexican woman (illegal) and Mexican boy (illegal) get their residency (American) should they celebrate? What happens to the trauma of being undocumented (illegal) after their
green cards (American) arrive? If they didn’t need a translator to communicate with the USCIS agent are they more worthy of citizenship (American)?
If the Mexican boy uses phrases like, check yo privilege
or the intersections of race, gender, class, and sexuality did he make Mexican woman’s (resident)
American Dream come true (American)? If the first thought the Mexican boy (resident) has waking up is sucking cock and not his thesis did he fail at being American (citizen)? If his only
concern is graduating from an oppressive Liberal Arts college education (American) not made for him (hood)(illegal), is Mexican Boy less American for not assimilating to academia (citizen).
If Mexican boy learns the word “queer,” struggles with: his sexuality, presenting his thesis in a symposium (American), and getting consumed with his post traumatic stress disorder (American)
is he less American (citizen) and more undocumented (illegal). If drinking doesn’t help erase the trauma is he more undocumeted (illegal) than American (citizen)?
If the Mexican boy (resident) carries his green card (American) wherever he goes, does he feel safe to travel from one state to the next (illegal)? If Mexican boy decides to write poetry in
English (American) yet is fluent in Spanish (illegal) has he picked a side?
Mexican woman becomes a legal citizen (American), while the Mexican boy (resident)(illegal) is in college. If she still speaks English with a molasses thick accent (illegal) is she more
undocumeted (illegal) than American (citizen)? Meanwhile Mexican boy chooses to not file for citizenship (American) after getting his residency (American) and protests with a communist
party (illegal). Is Mexican boy scared to not be enough American (citizen) and not enough undocumented (illegal)? What is he scared of losing or gaining?
Mexican woman has a promising business in Inglewood (hood). Mexican woman (citizen) tells Mexican boy to apply for citizenship to be protected in the face of the government (American),
because Mexican boy (resident)(illegal) is not safe. If the Mexican boy (resident) ignores Mexican
woman (citizen) does he not honor her sacrifice?
or is he rebelling against a whole country (American)(white)? Mexican boy (resident)(illegal) graduates college (American) and becomes a full-time creative writing and art teacher (American)
in Inglewood (hood). If Mexican boy’s (resident)(illegal) students (hood)(Black)(Mexican) call him
racist against white people (American) what should he respond? Mexican boy (resident) comes
out a third time (American). How does Mexican boy (resident)(illegal) explain that although he’s very
masculine presenting he’s a Mexican woman (illegal). If outwardly Mexican boy is not a
boy or a girl, but the line in-between (non-binary), is he, I mean she, I mean they, not trans enough
(queer)? If Mexican woman accepts Mexican trans as her child, is she more
American (citizen) than Mexican (illegal), or is she more undocumented (illegal) and unworthy of her
citizenship (American)? If Mexican trans keeps their beard (non-binary), but wears
Mexican woman’s blouses (queer) are they lying about about being “trans” (American)? If Mexican trans (hood)(non-binary) is scared to strut the night streets of Inglewood (hood) in heels
is Mexican trans more American (citizen) than resident (illegal)? Or are they not “hood” enough (white)? Are they stuck in limbo between borders within and outside of them (non-binary)?
If Mexican trans doesn’t celebrate their passed Citizenship test (American) is it because they’ll always feel like a resident (illegal),
mitigating their American culture (Black)(hood) and their trans (American)(non-binary) identity and their light skin (white) self only to never feel enough (American)(citizen)?
féi hernandez (b.1993 Chihuahua, Mexico) is an Inglewood raised immigrant trans non-binary visual artist and writer. féi’s writing has been featured in NPR’s Code Switch, Immigrant Review, Nonbinary: Memoirs of Gender and Identity (Columbia University Press, 2019), Good Mood, LiveWire Issue 7, Hayden's Ferry Issue 64, and forthcoming BreakBeat Poets Volume 4: LatiNEXT and the March issue of POETRY Magazine. Their debut full-length poetry collection hood criatura will be published through Sundress Publications in the Summer/Fall of 2020.