Published on October 25th, 2017 | by Giulia Trevellin0
Alex Alpharaoh tells a DACA story
The lights of Barnum Hall hit the stage and a man walks on, cradling his arms as if holding a baby. He slowly looks up at the audience and says, “She had been walking for weeks across the Mexican desert, holding her three-month-old boy to her chest. At 15 she had never left Guatemala before. When she ran out of water, she drank from puddles – if she could find them. Her breast milk dried up, and her baby grew weak with hunger. One day he began having a seizure.”
“Terrified, the mother screamed, ‘Ayudame! Ayudame!’ She rocked her violently shaking infant as he stopped breathing. She watched frantically as another woman ran to her and breathed life back into her boy’s lungs. When the baby came to, the woman fed him from her own breast. Soon after that, the mother crossed the border. Her baby was put to bed in Mickey Mouse pajamas. Someone handed her a Big Mac and said, ‘Welcome to America.’”
Thus goes the first scene of Alex Alpharaoh’s one-man show, WET: A DACAmented Journey, a play that shares his life being undocumented in the United States. The one-man play, brought to Barnum Hall on Monday, October 16 by the Samo chapter of the Human Rights Watch Student Task Force (HRWSTF), was paid for by an anonymous donor and will be brought to seven other area schools with HRWST chapters, according to Pam Bruns, Human Rights Watch Student Task Force Director.
Alpharaoh had to live much of his life in the shadows. Even though he had lived in the United States for the majority of his life, because his and his mother’s entrance into the states was undocumented, he wasn’t allowed basic privileges that so many Americans take for granted. Alpharaoh couldn’t qualify for a work permit, get a driver’s license or even get a library card.
While these restrictions impacted him, what affected Alpharaoh the most was that being undocumented became his identity. People looked at him and saw first and foremost his immigration status, rather than who he truly was as a person. Worst of all, Alpharaoh was constantly thinking about his immigration status. He always wondered whether he would be treated fairly by doctors or teachers, and lived in constant fear of deportation or arrest.
However, in June 2012, the Obama administration established DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an immigration policy that forever altered Alpharaoh’s life.
“My life sucked for 30 years! For so long, I did everything right, and I still wasn’t granted the opportunities that so many people take for granted. If it wasn’t for Obama and the DACA program, I would have taken a very different path, and I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Alpharaoh said.
For a little over five years, Alpharaoh didn’t have to constantly worry about being deported or be concerned about various restrictions. For the first time in his life, he could just focus on his two greatest passions; his family and acting.
However, Alpharaoh’s world was turned around when the Trump administration began to rescind DACA, putting Alpharaoh and hundreds of thousands of young lives at risk of deportation.
Alpharaoh realized that living in the United States wasn’t safe anymore. Without DACA, he was technically living the life of a criminal. He understood that the only way to safely remain would be traveling to Guatemala where he was born and then legally returning to the States, this time with legal proof of entry.
“When I left for Guatemala, I decided to write a play about my life. I didn’t know if I was going to come back, so I promised God that if I made it back home I would write this show and share it with people,” Alpharaoh said.
After making it safely back to the United States, Alpharaoh kept his promise to God and wrote his one-man play, which soon became a sensation throughout Los Angeles.
Despite how current Alpharaoh’s story is, he manages to express his story without being overly political. His show is purely his life: his ups and downs, and how he has overcome challenges to be where he his today.
“This is my life’s work. I’m an actor and I’m a writer, so in my trade I was taught to be honest and I was taught to be genuine. At the end of the day, this story happened to come at a time where circumstance met opportunity. I didn’t write this story because I felt like this is the perfect opportunity for me to capitalize on anything. I wrote this story because that’s what I do. I’m a storyteller, I’m an artist and my life’s work is devoted to telling stories,” Alpharaoh said.