THE STORY OF A DREAMER

This semester, I was in two gen-ed classes, Immigrant America and Debating U.S Issues. Between the two classes, I learned so much about current events and what’s going on, especially regarding immigration. Immigration is a very hot topic right now, and there is a lot of controversy and debate regarding immigration, especially at the southern border. One of my best friends here at school, Mariana, is undocumented, and I wanted to share her story so that those who don’t understand what’s happening can have a better idea of who it really effects.

 

 

My name is Mariana. I live in Nashville, Tn and I am a first-year architecture major. I was born in Guatemala to a Costa Rican mother and Guatemalan Father. I moved to the U.S when I was 3 years old. A lot of people think that’s a really cool fun fact, but in my case that fact also makes me an “illegal alien”, a “criminal” and several other offensive terms. I am an undocumented immigrant. I know my appearance isn’t what most people would associate with being undocumented, I know I have a certain privilege that other undocumented immigrants or Latinos in general don’t have: my light complexion, light eyes, light hair do not put a target on my back and I don’t fit in with the stereotypes. Strangers don’t look at me and assume I am Latina much less undocumented until they hear my name. My appearance doesn’t make me any more or any less of a Latina, but some people would argue with that. Some people want to strip my ethnicity from me because I don’t look the part. Latinos don’t identify with any specific race and we represent all skin tones. This is what an undocumented immigrant looks like- it’s not what many people expect.

 

This is my story but in order to tell my story I also feel the need to provide some information about illegal immigration because I know some people don’t really know a lot of the facts. Now I know there are several misconceptions of what an undocumented immigrant is. While there are some people with that status that choose a life of crime, the majority abide by the laws of this country and try their best to contribute. Trump (and his followers) like to think that illegal immigration costs taxpayers billions and that we do not pay taxes which is the furthest thing from the truth. Undocumented immigrants do in fact pay taxes for benefits that we can’t even use (such as social security and Medicare). We flew to Nashville on a temporary visa and we stayed 16 years longer than we were supposed to (also overstaying visas accounts for the majority of illegal immigration so building a wall is not going to stop illegal immigration @ trump.) My mom’s side of the family which includes her 6 siblings all live in Nashville so we were able to stay with her brother until we got settled and were able to find a place to live. Not having papers made it difficult for my parents to find work. My mother, with a passion and a degree in accounting, cleans houses with her sister and my father, with a passion and degree in botany, now sells used cars. My parents moved here and sacrificed everything so that my brothers and I could have a better life and live the American dream. My parents never hid the fact that we did not have the same opportunities as some of my cousins or classmates. I always knew some things were more difficult for us. When all my friends were getting their driver’s licenses and cars I was applying for DACA. If you don’t know what that is, it is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals which means that my parents brought me here as a child so DACA grants deferred action from deportation and a temporary social security number and a work permit, so I could get a driver’s license and a job. The DACA process also includes a background check and biometrics screening where they take my finger prints (so no, DACA recipients are not criminals, if they were they wouldn’t qualify for DACA). Trump’s election was a very rough time for me because the protection I have with DACA was under threat. I remember the night of the election watching the numbers on my TV with my family. I had an exam the next morning, so I went to bed early and fell asleep with the hopes that in the morning we would have a woman president. Nothing will ever compare to the heartbreak and sadness of waking up to both of my parents hugging me holding back the tears telling me Donald Trump is our president. His campaign instilled so much hate in some people’s hearts and fear into ours. Our only hope was with the possibility that Hillary would win and now that our reality was Trump as president, that fear grew. That day at school I spent crying on and off as I overheard the conversations. The counselors were offering their services to people that were having a hard time with the election and during lunch a kid I would invite to sit with us sometimes said “ why are the counselors wasting their time counseling people it’s stupid to be sad about a presidential election it’s not that big of a deal” and I am known for not holding back on my opinions and on this particular day I was definitely not going to let that pass. I said something along the lines of “are you aware of the privilege you have for being able to not feel affected by this election and not being able to possibly understand how this affects large groups of people. I know this won’t affect you personally but you have to see how millions of people are now living in fear.” Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against white people or people with certain privileges. I do however have a problem with people that refuse to acknowledge that privilege and people that would rather be ignorant than be educated.

 

After telling part of my story in the United States of America, I believe that we as a nation of freedom are capable of finding a solution to this issue. We came here as children and the United States of America is the only country we know. It’s our home. As citizens we should not allow DACA recipients to be used as political pawns but rather we must encourage our politicians to support legislative solutions for the dreamers. I know that through love, not hate, we will find a way. At the end of the day I am proud of being an undocumented immigrant because when I think of my status I think of my parents and the amount of love they have for me to leave their lives in the countries they spent their entire lives in and leaving the people they care for all so that my brothers and I could live the lives they dreamed for us.