Memoirs of an Undocumented Student
Every day is the same. An endless routine that never ends no matter how bad you want it to. You're stuck in eternal purgatory because of a decision your parents made for you when you were only seven years old. Too young to understand what's going on, but old enough to know that things would never be the same again.
For the last 16 years of your life, you've adapted and embraced your adopted country, assimilating and succeeding in spite of all of the daily hardships that you have to overcome. You ask your parents why they decided to bring you to the U.S. and it's always the same answer, "Te queriamos dar las oportunidades que nosotros nunca teniamos," but that isn't enough. It's never enough. Good intentions have led to some of the most horrific atrocities in human history, but you can't blame them. After all, they're your parents.
Growing up in the shadows, you learn to adapt, to hide your true identity like a costumed super hero. No one can ever know the real you because you don't know how they'll react. All you want to do is be another regular person, but eventually you realize that you're not. You excel in your studies and take advantage of the system, fulfilling the destiny your parents laid out for you.
You're the first in your family to graduate from high school and the first to attend college. Your family recognizes your accomplishments like religious worshipers that are celebrating the second coming of their savoir, but that's when all hell breaks loose. You suddenly realize that the secret you've been harboring your entire life is the only thing holding you back from achieving your destiny. You learn that there's no place for you, no chance to succeed without having to sacrifice what seems like your first-born child.
However, through various resources and loopholes you learn that it's not as bad as it seems and most importantly, that you're not alone. You find others like you, those who have shared your struggles, lived your hardships and dealt with the same dilemmas. "Ohh you're an AB 540 student too?" referring to the legislation that allows undocumented students and out of state residents that graduated from a California high school to qualify to pay in-state tuition at colleges and universities.
You continue on with your education because you know that's the only way you'll be able to succeed in this world, with an education. You enroll in a community college; you sign the affidavit that says that you're in the process of having legal residence or that you'll apply when you are eligible. You pay cash for tuition and for books with the help of family, friends and by working various jobs on the side.
You slowly learn to take advantage of your schools facilities, to survive in place that isn't suppose to help your kind. Like in high school, you excel in your college courses and garner attention from teachers who believe that you have something special, a drive to accomplish anything you set your mind to. They encourage you to apply to universities, they're willing to give you letters of recommendations for scholarships and they'll support you anyway they can. But you lie to them.
You tell them that you missed the deadline for the application to a university or a scholarship, but in reality you know that the only reason you didn't go through with it is because you know you don't qualify. You know that in the small print, "must be a legal U.S. resident" is a requirement you can't fulfill. So you continue to lie and keep it a secret until you just can't deal with it anymore.
You've lived with it for so long that you wish things would change for the better. You hope everyday that someone, somewhere will make a law or pass legislation that will open up a pathway to become a legal resident. Instead, you read about I.C.E raids tearing families apart in the mid-west, deporting people whose only crime was trying to work and support their families here in the U.S. and back in their home country.
You read about the number of hate crimes rising against undocumented citizens who didn't see it coming. You read about the DREAM Act failing to get enough votes in the senate again because the policy makers don't want to reward people who have broken immigration laws or to encourage more people to immigrate. You explain to them that under the DREAM Act, only those who have graduated from high school, have a college education, have good moral qualities, have been in the U.S. before reaching the age of 16, and haven't committed any crimes are eligible for legal status.
You explain to them that only after meeting all of those qualifications will the DREAM Act benefit you. But your words fall onto deaf ears because of their narrow-minded views. They say that by allowing all of these extra students in, resources will be stretched further than they already are. They fail to realize that the system can handle the extra students who have gone through universities without any financial aid. You tell them that all you want is the opportunity to be a contributing member of society and of your community.
Al you want is to help out the next
generation of kids who will have to endure the same hardships you went through
when you were growing up. You want to tell them that you're already an American;
you just don't have a paper that says it.