I came to the United States as a child, with my my parents and two younger brothers . I was nine years old and like most, a very energetic kid. People used to be surprised when I told them that I had been in the U.S. a year and they saw how I already spoke almost perfect English. My brain was absorbing everything and I was quickly switched from bilingual classes to “regular classes” as they were called in my school. My parents tried to remedy their illegal status by affiliating themselves to a refugee organization, which was only able to get them a deportation after an unsuccessful application process. At the time, my parents spoke lesser English than they do now, and they were not even aware of the deportation until I was 22 years old and inquired about my immigration status to a lawyer. I grew up in Princeton, New Jersey, which was the best place a kid could have grown at, but at 14 years old, I was unable to foresee the complexity of what lied ahead. I remember my mother asked my little brothers and I if we wanted to go back to Mexico, and unfortunately or fortunately we said yes. I will get to why soon.
My mother had won a small amount in a law suit, which probably didn’t even cover the costs of the injuries the suffered in the under-maintained house we lived in, but the fear of being undocumented led my parents to believe it was better to go back. So, my parents got rid of everything they had for a second time, and we went back to nothing in Mexico City. We hadn’t even landed and I already knew I wanted to go back home – to the U.S. The unfortunate part is that it was too late. My dad stayed behind, because that was the only way he could help sustain our family, so there we were with mom back in Mexico City. We had a tiny room at my estranged uncle’s house; I hated it all and would cry all the time. The reality of the poverty in my country of origin killed me! I had food and shelter, thanks to my parents’ sacrifices, but other people couldn’t even afford to eat three meals a day. I was torn by what I saw around me. This is the fortunate part because it enabled me to value the sacrifice of my parents and therefore promised myself a better life for my family. I then realized that I had to stop crying and be strong because I needed to find the courage to get out of that situation and help my family. It was going to be my 15th birthday, the most special day, besides a wedding, a Latina girl could have. My dad was in the U.S., and we were not doing that well back in Mexico; life was hard. I had always dreamt of my ‘QuinceaÃ±os’ party (similar to a Sweet 16 party), but when my dad said: ‘Your mom is asking me to bring you guys back, but if I do, you will not have a QuinceaÃ±os fiesta and you will have to work, because I cannot do it by myself. You will have to become independent and help support the family.’ I did not hesitate to say: “Yes Daddy, I will, but bring us back home please!” It was obviously a desperate plea, and so my Dad put himself in debt up to his neck to bring four people across the border once again. I can only imagine how hard it has been for him and my mom to take care of us, because I cannot imagine how hard it is to do what they have done, leave everything you know to look for a better life. So, when we got back to the U.S. I started to work to save money to do the only thing I saw value in doing – getting an education to help my family. I knew it would be very hard, and until very recently I was terrified to share my undocumented status with anyone, so few people knew. When I was in high school, I decided that I would apply to college because I needed to hear from at least one University that I was a student they wanted in their program. I succeeded, but of course, I couldn’t pay the $35,000 yearly tuition the University wanted so I declined my invitation. However, this moment in time was what gave me the momentum to move forward and go for my dream of going to college. I started at a community college, and finished my
Associates degree in Electrical Engineering Technology while working full-time. I then took it to the next level and applied to a 4 year University and enrolled in a B.S. program in Electrical and Computer Engineering. I have worked hours and hours to pay for the six years it has taken me to finish, but this May I will have earned my B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering. I am proud to say that I have worked extremely hard to accomplish this goal and that I truly believe DREAMies are unstoppable. I only wish I had reached out to people who could have helped me so that I could have done better in school. As the only daughter in my family, plus being undocumented, plus studying engineering, I have seen more lows that highs, and I just wish that things could have been different so that I could have focused in school, but that was not the case, and so today I ask U.S. citizens to support our cause. I am a testimony of what DREAMies are willing to do in order to get an education, and even though I have become stronger through my experiences, I am still afraid of what being undocumented means. Being undocumented means to me that the government of my country does not acknowledge me as being part of it, and that it is unwilling to give me a chance to exercise my engineering degree, which I earned through so much work. If anyone, who is still not convinced of why they should support Immigration Reform, ever reads my story, I hope you understand how difficult it has been, and that you put yourself in the shoes of my parents and realize that you would’ve come to the U.S. undocumented if that was the only way you could feed your children. Thank you for reading my story.