Indocumentalismo Manifesto—an Emerging Socio-Political Ideological Identity


Indocumentalismo Manifesto—an Emerging Socio-Political Ideological Identity

31 March 2010

By Raúl Alcaraz/Daniel Carrillo (versión en español será agregada a la página próximamente)

Note: The following article tries to put together ideas that already exist. None of this is new or groundbreaking. It is based on our experiences growing up in undocumented households/communities and our experiences as participants in the struggle for social justice. It is intended to name a particular experience and its growing social-political ideology.


Emerging socio-political ideology 

Political ideology is a certain set of ideals, principles or doctrines of a social movement, class or group of people that explain how society works, offers a vision of how society should be different, and proposes certain methods of achieving that vision. We know of political ideologies such as anarchism, socialism, communism, Maoism, Zapatismo, Magonismo to name a few. Today, there is another emerging political ideology rising from the experience of over 12 million U.S.-based undocumented peoples and their families. It is an ideology deeply rooted in a profound vision for social justice. Es una ideologia subterranea, clandestina, subversiva, indocumentada. El Indocumentalismo is an ideology blooming from a very specific set of social, cultural, economic and political experiences particular to displaced and economic refugees from Abya-yala (Latin America). It is an ideology rooted in the migrant uprising, today co-opted as the “Immigrant Rights Movement”.

Historical roots of Indocumentalismo

Indocumentalismo as an emerging socio-political ideology goes back centuries. It can be traced back to 1492 and the European invasion that killed millions, occupied native land and split up the earth into territories. This ideology can also be traced back to 1521 when Tenochtitlan, Mexico fell to the blood-filled hands of Spanish rule and finally, it can be traced to U.S. imperialism and the Mexican-American War where colonial forces occupied the southwest and through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Gadsden Purchase established the U.S.-Mexico international border line where we know it today.

Indocumentalismo comes from a history of slavery, genocide and dehumanization. From the very foundation of the United States of America, Native and African people were completely excluded from freedom and citizenship. In order to justify land robbing of Native land and the kidnapping and enslavement of millions of African folks, the U.S. capitalist/imperialist machine had to deny their humanity and by extension deny them papers. Citizenship and borders were thus created as tools of capitalist/imperialist oppression meant to dominate and control the land, resources and labor and who has access to them. We cannot forget that Europeans were the first undocumented/ “illegal” group in the hemisphere. But after they founded the United (colonial) States, and after they defined/imposed borders and citizenship, Africans and northern Natives became the first colonized/undocumented groups.

From the start of the Mexican Revolution of 1910 to 1920, almost 900,000 thousand southern Natives (aka Mexicans) fled to the U.S. This meant that rural and land-based brown folks were now living in this country. Indocumentalismo therefore has ideological roots in Magonista and Zapatista ideologies—indigenous-based, radical Mexican social movements originating in this time period.

With the development of American history and the rise of a globalized capitalism, Mexican and “Central American” labor became the most appealing to the ruling class; Largely because they could easily segregate the labor force (similar to how they did during slavery times) between “American” and “immigrant”, between “citizen” and “illegal” or essentially between “human” and “sub-human”. This has not only crafted a perfectly segregated labor force, but also a social, psychological, cultural, economic and political system segregated along racial, class, gender, sexual orientation and citizenship lines.

“We are human”: Reformist Immigrant Rights Hispanic Movement

In the year 2010 the mainstream “Immigrant Rights Movement” is still reformist, still assimilationist, still hetero-male dominated, still hungry for the “American Dream”, still lacking an anti-colonial analysis and vision…

“Resisting the colonial?”

I do not know, but this is what my heart says… standing in line, waiting to be processed by the colonizers and waiting for colonial papers.  The “Immigrant Rights Movement” stands in line, waiting to be called on by the colonizer in order to receive white papers stamped “human”.  As the movement says “we are human” we in turn exclude our sisters and brothers who fell “behind” in the race to become white.  The movement does not say we are indigenous, we are womyn, we are queer. The movement states we seek to be white and marches with the colonizer’s flag.  It does not resist colonization but instead offers to side with the slave master in exchange for certain privileges.  Essentially, it defends the US; it validates its ongoing genocide and occupation.

The rise of Indocumentalismo

It is from this historical and current context that Indocumentalismo emerges. Not only is Indocumentalismo based on oppression, but more importantly its very essence is rebellion-rebeldía:

Indigenous-based. Indocumentalismo recognizes that the struggle for migrant rights is a struggle within the context of indigenous rebellion and indigenous liberation. We recognize our indigenous ancestry and see ourselves not as “immigrants” or “illegal aliens”, but as Native descendants living in the Northern, Central and Southern continents. Our method of organizing is collective and communal. We imagine love to build this movement and a connection of the four elements (fire, earth, water, wind) to humanity.  We embrace our mother earth and all life on this planet. Indocumentalismo is indigenous-based.

Anti-colonial/Anti-borders. Indocumentalismo understands that our framework needs to be an anti-colonial analysis of race, class, gender, and sexuality. This includes an anti-capitalist/anti-imperialist orientation. Indocumentalismo recognizes no borders because our ancestors for thousands of years migrated throughout these lands without restrictions or walls of shame. Today, capitalism forces hundreds of thousands of our family members annually to make a long, dangerous and “unauthorized” journey north. Clearly, we have no regard or respect for their colonial borders or walls. Indocumentalismo seeks to abolish not only physical, but also mental, spiritual, social and psychological borders among us. Indocumentalismo is anti-colonial and anti-borders.

Queer/Womyn embracing. Indocumetalismo comes from the most marginalized, oppressed sectors of society. This means solidarity with all oppressed people of the world is its essence. Currently, our community is plagued with sexism and homophobia. We understand this is a result of colonial occupation we have adopted that seeks to divide and weaken us. Here and in some parts of this continent, tradition means not to exclude people, it means to include all of us in a respectful and dignified manner.  In this manner, the movement we build is a womyn/queer radical movement.  We do not force womyn or queer people out of prayer circles or movement-building because of “tradition” that says their energy is wrong. Indocumentalismo does not structure itself under a heterosexual male framework. Indocumentalismo is queer and womyn embracing.

AutonomousIndocumetalismo is anti-authoritarian. To be ruled by laws or governments without our consent is unacceptable. Communities should have the right to govern themselves and not be ruled by an outside, occupying force. Historically and currently, because of police/migra and state-sponsored terrorism, our community overwhelmingly does not trust law enforcement or government agencies. Power of the state means oppression ofel pueblo. We believe in autonomy where the community is independent. This means the politicians, government, corporations, la migra, military or police do not control our minds/bodies/spirits. Indocumentalismo is anti-authoritarian and autonomous.

Non-reformist. Indocumentalismo is clear that when there is no federal recognition or respect for community self-determination, then one only has violence as a resort and means to be heard. Violence is generally a last resort in a struggle for freedom, after exhausting various non-violent channels. We need to employ non-violent direct action tactics, because right now our tactics are submissive and disempowering. The movement is currently disarmed and turns to electoral tactics: voting and lobbying. The “Immigrant Rights Movement” accepts only state-sanctioned/state-approved methods for “change”—thus validating an oppressive political system. Indocumentalismo supports our community’s fight for legalization. But it also recognizes that a Reforma Migratoria as we currently know it is problematic because it seeks change within a blood-filled system and further promotes the surveillance, persecution, deportations, raids, criminalization and militarization of our communities. Instead, indocumentalismo follows the militant/warrior spirit of our community that is tired, fed-up and outraged with this system and seeks to liberate itself from it. Indocumentalismo seeks alternative, grassroots, revolutionary methods of struggle!


Along with other indigenous Mexican@s/Xicanas/and other “Raza”, we have been permanently displaced by imperialist capitalism and now reside throughout areas of the US. We are not recognized by the state as “indigenous” or “native”.  Our community does not have those kinds of papers, we do not have reservations, and we are not “valid” indigenous communities. According to them, we have no papers to be indigenous and no papers to be human. ¡Somos un pueblo sin papeles! ¡Somos un pueblo indocumentado! This is dangerous for the system because our community is not in their system, and cannot be tracked. It is from this invisibility, from these shadows; from the margins that indocumentalismo rises as a socio-political ideology. Indocumentalismo presents a growing threat to the system because this ideology thinks and acts beyond the limits of their borders; we are inherently “illegitimate” and “subversive”; we are its biggest crisis. We have never surrendered during colonial occupation, we have never signed any treaties with this illegitimate government, and we will not start now. We charge the US with the genocide of indigenous peoples and its illegal occupation of these lands. We remain firm in our stance to defend and nourish this earth and our families and communities that struggle for liberation!

In Solidarity,

Raúl Alcaraz/Daniel Carrillo


Raúl Alcaraz is  Arizona-based, queer, abolitionist, community organizer