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.
I have been a DREAMer since 2000, ever since the age of nine. Coming here to the United States was a confusing to me, considering that we didn’t have no family here. I did not understand why we moved to Las Vegas, Nevada. We did not, and up to this point, we have no family. And, of course, as children, our parents did not explain their problems to us because we could not reason.
My father lived in Las Vegas, Nevada, for four years before my family and I actually came to the states. He left us in Bolivia; me, the age of four, a brother of the age of seven, and a loving mother. Throughout those four years, I did not know I had a father until he visited Bolivia when I was four years old. He stayed for a year to convince my mother to go to the United States, so that as a family, we could live the “American Dream.” Bolivia does not offer a stable educational future for the youth of the country. Regular school days were cancelled due to revolutionary riots, and it is just a dangerous place to live in. Robberies are frequent, as well as rape and kidnapping. Now that I am older, I understand the reasons why we left our country.
Assimilating to this country was a struggle. The first two years were rough without the rest of our family, and also, settling down was a harsh experience. Going to school was a challenge for foreign students due to the new language and the American cultural differences. I did not mind learning the language because I like to learn. My family and I were successful; mom had a job as a cosmetologist/hair designer, dad opened his own mechanic business, my brother graduated high school, and I was still in school getting straight A’s, aiming for an Honors Diploma…life was good!
My parents were working on getting our residency. Unfortunately, the lawyer that my father was working with was fraud and mishandled paperwork for us and other families across the states. I was about 14 years old and was still clueless in regards to our immigrations status.
After we found out about our mishandled paperwork, my father moved us to different house (I have moved about 7 times) because my parents were scared of getting separated and they also wanted to protect us from ICE.
In 2009, just after Christmas, my father was suprisingly deported. That day seemed like a horrible dream to my family and I; everything seemed so unreal. He had left his business open and we had only one day to move all his mechanic tools out of the property. The owner warned us that he would close it at 9 p.m., and whatever was left in there would belong to him. Those tools were, heavy and enormous, were difficult to move (we moved tool boxes, lifters, and cars). I will never forget this feeling of being alone, everything in my life changed after my father’s deportation.
That same year I was graduating high school with an Honors Diploma, three accomplishments (math, graphic design, and Spanish ), Millennium Scholarship, and dressed in white ( in Nevada it means you had your GPA 3.5 and higher). It was very sad for me not having my father present in my graduation. Only my mom showed up because she was the only one left to support me. Graduation day was supposed to be special to me. I always dreamed of seeing my parents proud of their daughter’s accomplishments. On that moment, I realized that I was a student with no rights and had many limits in my life (working, driving, applying to scholarships all required residency or citizenship). I almost thought I could not go to college. I had to set myself limits in life; however, I did not give up on my education.
Education is important in life and something I can take my knowledge anywhere!
Unfortunately in 2011, my brother was deported, leaving his two little girls and wife. Until this day, Marinita (the oldest daughter) remembers her dad being taken away by ‘cops’ and often asks, “where is my dad?” With all these unfortunate experiences, my mom and I are scared to be next.
I am attending college majoring in Graphic Design. Design is something I like, though I am not passionate of. I am afraid of being deported without finishing my education, therefore I chose this major because I would rather leave with one degree than nothing. My passion is to find a cure for aids, cancer, and other diseases. I have been going to college every semester, including summer semesters, because I feel rushed against ICE’s unexpected ambushes. In three months, I am graduating with a Graphic Design emphasis Associate’s degree. If it were for me, I would take my time in my classes, and major in something I have passion for. Supporting the DREAM ACT will help me and all of the undocumented students fulfill their education goals.
The DREAM Act will help me, as well as numerous students that share my predicament, to fulfill our educational goals and achieve our dreams in a land that we have called home for several years.