Through various trials and obstacles faced by undocumented youth around the country, the hope that an answer to their distress will be answered still remains in the DREAM Act. Here are the stories of this generation. (I do not claim ownership of the media used in this page)
“As a Conservative organization, we believe the DREAM Act does not grant young people any entitlements, but rather an earned legalization through hard work, discipline, and dedication to our Great Nation. It would give a group of people who speak English well and who have completed high school, a chance to join our Armed Forces or pursue higher learning. Joining the military as a prerequisite for earned legalization is an intimate and fulfilling experience with regard to developing a strong American identity and love for our country. Higher education is another prerequisite for the Dream Act, and conservatives should promote this kind of legislation because higher education would allow this group to support themselves in the labor market.”
Founder, Somos Republicans
Everyone has a story and it seems like I have two – the real one and the superficial one. My story is lived by 2 million Americans – well, not so American. I am 24 years old and have been residing in the United States illegally since I was 8. This fact has shaped the way I have lived my life, but not the way I have dreamed about it.
When I was 8, I was put on a plane from Colombia to Peru and was told I was going to see my mother who lived in the U.S.A. In Peru, I met a family that taught me a game where I had to learn everything about another little girl named Mayra. I was a dedicated student (I even skipped a grade back in Colombia) and I was determined to learn all her details – her grandparent’s names, her favorite hobbies, the name of her school, etc. This came in handy when I was going through customs in the United States. You see, they told me that a group of gentlemen were going to ask me questions and I had to pretend I was Mayra. Let’s just say I beat the game and got the best prize because I got to see my mom. Two things I remember are the happiness I felt to see her and the November snow, which was more beautiful than what I had dreamed it would be. Today, I can’t even remember the names of the people I was with or even any details on Mayra because all that was not important; it was just a game. On the biggest day of your life you don’t recognize that such day is it.
Soon after my arrival, I started the fourth grade and took advantage of all the opportunities America offered me. In high school, I was the main anchor of my school’s newscast, president of the modeling club, and I was involved in the history club and science club. Most importantly, or so I thought, I graduated top ten of my class. In actuality, the most important thing was my involvement in the science club with Mrs. Makar. I remember tearing when I told her I couldn’t go to college because I couldn’t afford it. She made a few calls and signed me up for some private scholarships. She also had connections at Rutgers University and spoke to them after my application had been sent. To this day, I am not sure if I got accepted by merit or because of Mrs. Makar. Either way, this wasn’t a community college, this was so good, it was beyond my dreams.
Reality hit me hard for the first time when the scholarships expired. I needed to provide them with a social to renew them. I could not get a job because I needed a social for that too. My mother, who raised me by herself, had two full-time jobs during the week, and a job during the weekend. I remember every semester we were late on payment because it was really hard to come up with $10,000 for tuition. Somehow, God kept providing mom with the money and I just kept going. The last three semesters I had to do part-time and live at home. This meant a 3-hour commute to school since I could not get a license to drive (a bus, two trains, and bus again). But who cares? The commute was the least of my worries.
I am very proud to say my degree is a Bachelor’s of Science – my major was Exercise Science and Sport Studies and my minor, French. I am proud of it because social or not, no one can take this away from me.
Now that I have told you the real story, let me tell you the superficial one. There weren’t always two stories. I believe the division began once the real story became too embarrassing or too problematic for me. When I went to college, I couldn’t tell my roommates why I wasn’t applying for FASFA , why I didn’t drive, why I couldn’t work, and why I kept changing my mind about my major. I became so good at answering these questions and always made a joke when asked. If someone asked me why I didn’t drive I would say I had nervous disorder and “its better for the world that I’m off the road,” or that I was color blind and “you’re looking a bit gray today.” People knew I was joking but as long as you gave them an answer, they didn’t insist. Sometimes I would tell them the reason was because I was here illegally, but they thought that too was a joke. I didn’t want to be different, or inspire pity, or meet someone that would be so mean and report me to the authorities.
I danced my way through college, literally. I made it to a Ballroom Dance Team and became president during my last year. My sports director notified me that I couldn’t be president because I wasn’t a full time student at the time, but at the end, she told me not to mention it and allowed me to go on. My closest friends are people I met on the team. People who never in a million years would think I am here illegally. I don’t mean to lie to them and I have no idea how I have managed to cover it all up when I know my whole life revolves around this one issue. I guess I thought that something like the DREAM Act would pass, the issue would be resolved, and I would never have to mention it at all. This illegal life is not the life I want to live, is the one I was forced to live. It just doesn’t make sense — my mother is a naturalized US Citizen and my husband is a born US citizen and I thought there has to be a way for me to get my papers. But there isn’t because there is no way for me to proof I came here with a visa.
I am blogging today because I have time - something I never had before. The company I was working for was raided by ICE and I had to leave before I was caught and deported. This is the second time reality struck me and with mighty force. The day I lost my job was the scariest day of my life – those minutes when I thought everything I had worked for would be taken from me….
But God’s thoughts were definitely bigger than mine and believe me, this is something I keep forgetting. This day brought a lot more than what it took. You see, nothing can bring you closer to God like the scariest day of your life. What I had to do wasn’t to give up on my dreams; it was simply to change them. Even though I have always dreamed big, God has provided for me even bigger things - my husband, my health, my family, my college experience, and a story worth blogging about. My dreams have drifted from wanting a passport of the United States to wanting a passport to heaven.
Everyone has a story and today I felt my undocumented story needed to be documented.
My parents brought me to the United States when I was 3 years old. I did not realize how different my life was going to be as opposed to my friends, who are all “legal” in this country, until I was 18.
It was horrible for me to realize that I was not going to a university because I did not have the money to do so. I was devastated. Since 2008, after my high school graduation, it has been very difficult for me to live a “normal” life. It has been hard for me to acquire a good job where I can get treated fairly and respected as I deserve to be. I have a lot of potential and can achieve farther in life than just settling as a busgirl.
It is tough to pursue what I really want in life.
My only hope is the DREAM Act.
I am currently working towards my Associates of Arts degree in Business Administration. As soon as I finish this, I will be transferring to obtain my Bachelors degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resources Management. I want to be a Human Resource manager. Luckily, I have been able to go to school because I am an AB-540 student. Otherwise, it would have been almost impossible for me to go to school. My citizenship status is holding me back enormously. All of my hopes and dreams have been put on hold indefinitely, and right now, I am just frustrated. I do not know what I am going to do. I cannot live like this my whole life.
Something must be done.
The DREAM Act must be passed.
There are so many young and talented people living with the same limitation as me, and these lives are being wasted because of their citizenship. I want to have a career, own a house, own a car, etc…but I cannot.
I am a sixty-one year old teacher. I have taught for over 38 years. My teaching experience includes working with GATE students, resource students, high maintenance kids and the children of my heart, EL students and newcomers. Over the years, I have seen students arrive in my classroom coming from all walks of life. I have seen the refugee students arrive with their I-94’s in hand. They have traveled the world and seen horrendous atrocities prior to arriving in America. Although terrorized at first, they eventually learn to value America and all of the wonderful things about it. They take their place in our society. Many have won scholarships, have completed their universities degrees and are working and giving back to a country that took them in. I am pleased that they have transitioned and have become the new Americans.
I have also had newly immigrated students from other countries who came in undocumented. They were minors when they arrived and somehow our society and our government choose to punish minors for crimes which their parents committed. I have had students arrive, equally as terrorized as the refugee students. They have faced the same turmoil and tumultuous paths to arrive in America. Some have seen their parents have to swim across a river to get into America. Some have seen the coyotes take their money and leave them stranded. Some have seen atrocities along the way. When one is a minor, these events leave lasting memories. These kids work equally as hard as the other “refugee” students. They make fabulous grades in high school, they take pride in their education, and they move on to the university, originally having to pay out-of-state tuition because they did not have the proper documentation. They work hard to take their place in America. They excel, and yet the laws of America, established by ignorant Congressional leaders, punish minors who had no choice in decisions made by their parents. They strive for excellence, they receive their degrees from the universities with honors; however, unlike my other students, they are not given their chance to give back to our society by paying taxes and stepping into the American dream because OUR COUNTRY is so ignorant that it chooses to enforce laws that are punitive. If any other country treated minors the way we are treating our undocumented students, America would be protesting over civil rights violations. Our attitude is almost the same as in 19th century England with debtors prison where everyone in the family was punished equally due to the decisions made by the parents. Everyone says, “Well, have these undocumented students retrace their steps and come into America the right way.” Whoever says that has no concept of the archaic laws of immigration and the dead ends that our country has placed in attempting to come into the country legally. They have no idea that nothing is set in place to help these students out. Many students know no other country than America because they came in at such an early age. Does a 3 year old have the ability to tell his/her parents, “Sorry, please do not take me to America. I will never be able to be legal if you do”? Nothing has been made easy to allow these students to take their place in our society and begin paying taxes because everyone lacks knowledge of the lack of ethical laws in place. And, of course, no politician is going to make waves because he/she does not have the intestinal fortitude to withstand the ignorance of an unknowing population. SO my students continue to become the shadows of our country. They never are given the opportunity to be a part of this country because the laws of this country are so irrational. In Plato’s allegory of the cave there was mention of a mentor who would lead the ignorant out of their chained environment of the cave and allow them into the world of education and knowledge. There is no one leader in America who has the courage and strong conviction to help these students out.
I am sad for America because we are losing a viable resource in the workforce with these students. We are losing the best of the best minds because no one in America has the guts to own up that the laws are wrong.