For My Immigrants

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The Story Behind For My Immigrants

Alexis Torres Machado was five when his parents brought him to the U.S. from Uruguay. Fair skinned and blue eyed, he defies visions of swarthy migrants trying to scale our imaginary walls. He’s one of the hundreds of thousands of youth who discovered they were undocumented at some point during childhood. Torres Machado found out when he was 11, and he remembers growing up with fear and stress. His mother, who supported him coming out of the shadows to register for DACA, discouraged him from releasing For My Immigrants because she was afraid he would be too exposed.

As a junior at Rutgers University-Newark, Torres Machado wrote For My Immigrants on the heels of Donald Trump’s election. Head held high, voice assertive, he used the rap to set the record straight. “I was tired of all the false claims about immigrants,” he says. “I wanted my people to know ‘You’re not alone. Your voice is heard.’” What he saw in the news didn’t reflect the people he knew or the experience he had lived, so he channeled his anger into verse.

At Newest Americans, co-founders Tim Raphael and Julie Winokur knew that For My Immigrants had the potential to become an anthem for undocumented youth across the country. The intensity and integrity of Alexis’ words, and the passion in his performance, resonated. The original version of the song was set to a Reggaeton beat Alexis ripped from Youtube, and he had produced his own video by wrangling favors from friends at Rutgers-Newark. We asked him if he wanted to collaborate with Newest Americans and take his song to the next level. We brought in our friends Guillermo Brown (Pegasus Warning and the drummer for The Late Late Show with James Corden) and Wynne Bennett (composer and keyboardist for Twin Shadow) to create an original score. Then we enlisted Adam Abada to direct the music video, and we rallied some more friends and family—all immigrants, many DACA recipients—to be in the video.

Newest Americans Executive Director Tim Raphael coaches Alexis and the crew of friends, family and fellow immigrants on the set in ODR Studios in Newark, NJ.

The video was shot in ODR Studios, a new production space in the Ironbound neighborhood of Newark, where Torres Machado grew up. ODR is the brainchild of Alex Hodgkinson, whose uncle owns the building, which still houses his electrical transformer supply business. Like so many industrial buildings in Newark, the walls bear the weight of a century’s worth of sweaty, unglamorous, work that defines this city. We also shot at iconic spots in the neighborhood, which has a predominantly immigrant population.

Torres Machado is currently a senior and will graduate with a Theater degree. When asked how this whole collaboration has been for him he said, “Insane! It was one of the coolest things that’s happened in my whole life.” Then he explained that when he first posted the original song, he was shocked at the vicious responses from some people. He did his best to encourage them to get better informed, to understand who undocumented immigrants are and why they’re here. He was energized when he actually got some traction with one guy who made an effort to do his homework. Alexis, and all of the collaborators on the song and video, hope that For My Immigrants will empower DREAMers, while encouraging the rest of us to stand with them.


Original Lyrics

This is for my immigrants
For my immigrants X3
This is for my immigrants 
For my immigrants X2
Inmigrantes
This is for my immigrants
For my immigrants X3
This is for my immigrants 
For my immigrants X2
Inmigrantes

Hola, mi nombre es Alexis Torres Machado
Yo llegue a este país
Cuando tenía 5 años
Vengo de Uruguay, mi acento lo hace claro
Nací en Montevideo
Aguada era mi barrio
Estos ignorantes
No piensan que soy hispano
Porque mis ojos azules
Y porque mi piel es blanco
Confiados estos racistas empiezan hablando malo de todos los inmigrantes
Los mando para el carajo 
Los gringos no saben la suerte que tienen
Haría cualquier cosa por tener mis papeles
Y ahora tristemente que tenemos
Este nuevo Presidente
Ni siquiera voy a ser
Un temporario residente


Hello, my name is Alexis Torres Machado
I was raised in Newark, NJ
ever since I was 5 years old
I’m 22 now
When I was just 11 
I discovered the truth bout
My residence
Mama didn’t tell me
Cause she didn’t want me stressin
But my father started talking
And he told me it by accident
My mother started panicking
Like he’s too young to handle it
But truly I didn’t care
Cause I didn’t really understand then
Junior year of high school is
When it started sinking in
I didn’t have the same opportunities
As my other friends
Study for their permits then
Flexing they got licenses
No one in my family had a car
So we just used our legs
That’s one thing we couldn’t get
Out of many
So that’s not my only complaint
I have plenty
Accepted to the college that I wanted
But I couldn’t get no scholarship
Tuition was like 40 thousand dollars
In a year, with no financial aid
Even tho my family makes less than 30K
Now do the math and please explain how we’re supposed to pay
Went to community college
My parents pay out of pocket
To this day


This is for my immigrants
For my immigrants X3
This is for my immigrants 
For my immigrants X2
Inmigrantes
This is for my immigrants
For my immigrants X3
This is for my immigrants 
For my immigrants X2
Inmigrantes

Levántate tenemos que hacer
Todo lo que podemos hacer
Cualquier montaña voy a mover
Cualquier pared se puede romper 


At 19 I got my associates degree
I took a couple years off
And I started to teach
I taught algebra to students
from Central and South America
Who never had a chance so they took their shot like a camera
And came here to this country 
With nothing else but some hope
Maybe a couple bucks
And the clothes on their back at most
They came crying to me
cause they didn’t know how to cope
I told them to keep believing
I let my story unfold
It took 12 years 
For someone to finally give a damn
When Obama passed DACA
I finally had a chance
Now I’m going back to college
With a full ride scholarship
You are affecting lives
This is not just politics


Cansado
No quiero tener miedo
Que me quiten de
Lo que amo y quiero 
Que me quiten de mi familia, amigos y todo lo que conozco
Es todo lo que me acuerdo 
Queremos cambio enserio
Y nada loco tampoco
Justo y bueno
Es suficiente
Mi gente no tengan miedo
Lo que creemos hacemos
Y unidos juntos podemos


This is for my immigrants
For my immigrants X3
This is for my immigrants 
For my immigrants X2
Inmigrantes
This is for my immigrants
For my immigrants X3
This is for my immigrants 
For my immigrants X2
Inmigrantes

Levántate tenemos que hacer
Todo lo que podemos hacer
Cualquier montaña voy a mover
Cualquier pared se puede romper 

This is for my immigrants
For my immigrants X3
This is for my immigrants 
For my immigrants X2
Inmigrantes!

Translated Lyrics

Esto es para mis inmigrantes
Para mis inmigrantes x3
Esto es para mis inmigrantes
Para mis inmigrantes x2
Inmigrantes
Esto es para mis inmigrantes
Para mis inmigrantes x3
Esto es para mis inmigrantes
Para mis inmigrantes x2
Inmigrantes

Hello, my name is Alexis Torres Machado
I came to this country
When I was 5 yrs old
I’m from Uruguay, my accent makes it clear
I was born in Montevideo
Aguada was my neighborhood
Ignorant people
Don’t think I’m Hispanic
Because my eyes are blue
And because my skin is white
With confidence these racists start talking trash about all immigrants
I tell them to go to hell
Americans don’t know how lucky they are
I would do anything to have my papers
And now sadly that we have
This new President
I’m not even going to be
A temporary resident


Hola, mi nombre es Alexis Torres Machado
Fui criado en Newark, NJ
desde que tenía 5 años
Ahora tengo 22
Cuando tenía solo 11 años
Descubrí la verdad de
Mi residencia
Mama no me dijo
Porque no quería preocuparme
Pero mi padre empezó hablar
Y me lo dijo por accidente
Mi madre entró en pánico
Él es muy joven para manejarlo
Pero la verdad no me importaba
Porque realmente no entendía entonces
Año junior de high school es
Cuando empecé a entender
Que no tenía las mismas oportunidades
Que mis otros amigos
Estudiar para sus permisos
Mostrando sus licencias
Nadie en mi familia tenía un auto
Así que usamos nuestras piernas
Esa es una cosa que no teníamos
Una de muchas
Así que no es mi única queja
Tengo muchas
Aceptado a la universidad que quería
Pero no pude conseguir una beca
Matrícula era como 40 mil dólares
En un año sin ayuda financiera
Aunque mi familia gane menos de 30 mil
Haz la cuenta y por favor explícame cómo debemos pagar
Fui al colegio comunitario
Mis padres lo pagan de su bolsillo
Hasta este día


Esto es para mis inmigrantes
Para mis inmigrantes x3
Esto es para mis inmigrantes
Para mis inmigrantes x2
Inmigrantes
Esto es para mis inmigrantes
Para mis inmigrantes x3
Esto es para mis inmigrantes
Para mis inmigrantes x2
Inmigrantes

Get up! We need to do
Everything we can do
I will move any mountain
Any wall can be broken


A los 19 conseguí mi diploma
Me tome un par de años
Y empecé a enseñar
Enseñé álgebra a estudiantes
de centro y Sudamérica
Quienes nunca tenían un chance entonces se engancharon
Y vinieron aquí a este país
Con nada más que esperanza
Tal vez un par de pesos
Y lo que traían puesto a lo sumo
Me venían llorando
porque no sabían cómo superar
Les dije que siguieran creyendo
Deje que mi historia salió
Tomó 12 años
Para que alguien finalmente diera un bledo
Cuando Obama pasó DACA
Finalmente tuve un chance
Ahora vuelvo a la universidad
Con una beca completa
Ustedes están afectando vidas
Esto no es solo política


Tired
I don’t want to be afraid
Of being taken away from
What I love and care for
Of being taken away from my family, friends, and all I know
It’s all that I remember
We want real change
And nothing crazy either
Fair and good
Is enough
My people don’t be afraid
What we believe, we do
And united we can do anything


Esto es para mis inmigrantes
Para mis inmigrantes x3
Esto es para mis inmigrantes
Para mis inmigrantes x2
Inmigrantes
Esto es para mis inmigrantes
Para mis inmigrantes x3
Esto es para mis inmigrantes
Para mis inmigrantes x2
Inmigrantes

Get up! We need to do
Everything we can do
I will move any mountain
Any wall can be broken

Esto es para mis inmigrantes
Para mis inmigrantes x3
Esto es para mis inmigrantes
Para mis inmigrantes x2
Inmigrantes!


Music:
Alexis Torres Machado arrived in Newark, NJ from Uruguay at the age of five. He is a DREAMER, a rapper, and a senior at Rutgers University-Newark.

Guillermo E. Brown is multi-disciplinary performer, percussionist, producer, and vocalist with Panamanian and Caribbean roots, living in Los Angeles.  He is a recipient of a Creative Capital Award and MAP Fund award for Bee Boy.  He is preparing new material for his project Pegasus Warning to be released later this year. 

Wynne Bennett is a composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist. She has worked with artists like Twin Shadow, Janelle Monáe, Slick Rick, and Bill T. Jones, just to name a few. She will be  releasing new music coming out soon.

Video:
Adam Abada is a New York-born filmmaker currently based in Los Angeles. He is interested in the intersection of culture, history, and communication in his work. Follow him on Instagram at @gnarcotics.

Photo:
Ed Kashi
is a photojournalist and filmmaker dedicated to documenting the social and political issues that define our times. As a member of VII Photo Agency, Kashi has been recognized internationally and has published XX books of his photography.

Words:
Julie Winokur,
founder of Talking Eyes Media, has been a storyteller for over two decades, first as a magazine writer and then as a documentary filmmaker. She is a co-founder of Newest Americans.

Producer:
Tim Raphael
is a professor of Arts, Culture and Media at Rutgers University-Newark. He is the founding director of the Center for Migration and the Global City and the co-founder of Newest Americans

Media Contact:
For more information contact Rachel Dennis.

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What is
NEWEST
AMERICANS

We are a multimedia collaboratory of journalists, media-makers, artists, faculty and students telling the stories that radiate from the most diverse university in the nation. Based in Newark, NJ, a city shaped by migration, our project affords a glimpse into the world of the newest Americans and a vision of our demographic future.

Newest Americans is produced by the Center for Migration and the Global City, and faculty in the Department of Arts, Culture and Media at Rutgers University Newark in partnership with VII Photo and Talking Eyes Media. We have a large body of contributors and co-conspirators who are credited in the masthead and at the end of each story.

To contact us, please email info@newestamericans.com.

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