Editor’s note: Raising voices decided to publish this story as anonymous based on the uncertainty about the new immigration rules and in order to protect the student.
My mother was a strong resilient woman who had to make many difficult decisions when it came to her two daughters, my sister and I. She knew there was a better life out there for us, and she knew the challenges we would face trying to obtain it. Nevertheless, she pursued that dream and the fire inside her burned with passion and determination to give her daughters a life that she’d always wanted. And in her pursuit of a better life she found that the road was much longer and much darker than expected.
Too young to know the dangers and the consequences, I, a joyful little six-year-old, rode alongside my mother and sister to the promised land. To my surprise, the road to a prosperous land was far more brutal than I thought. However, the three of us made it to America and started our lives in a town just shy of Boston, Massachusetts. I didn’t know it then how difficult this journey would be on my mother and later, on myself.
The road to a prosperous land was far more brutal than I thought
President Obama… sorry, former President Obama dealt with many aspects of immigration in America, and one provision that opened so many doors for so many immigrant children across the country was DACA.
Differed Action for Childhood Arrivals was a small opening for me, my sister and thousands in America. At six years old I would’ve believed anything my mother told me. I am so grateful that she did not abuse my innocence and hide from me the burdens of being an illegal immigrant, but some are not so lucky. DACA gave people like me a chance to build their lives in America legally and with a smaller chance of being deported, it was not however, a path to citizenship, but a sign of hope. It granted the right to work legally, to apply for a driver’s license, and to pay in-state tuition for state schools. It was the beginning of a light at the end of a long, long tunnel.
After I applied for DACA status I didn’t feel like such an outsider. I was 16 when I was awarded this privilege and I remember not letting my dad see a day without me begging him to take me to go for my permit. All of my friends had already gotten theirs, already gone through Driver’s Ed, and me being the oldest in my group of friends I felt isolated and excluded from a teenage milestone. It was an incredible feeling, finally getting to do what every sixteen year-old wants to do, drive. It was exhilarating. Ten years after I stepped foot on US soil, that was the first time I felt included and a part of this nation.
Ten years. It took me ten years to feel a part of this community, and not for my lack of trying. I participated in school events, my mother paid for me to play in sports teams, I worked hard in school to make them proud, I lived my life like any other child around me. Yet, I knew I was different and it took a little card with a fuzzy black and white photo of me in the bottom right corner to make me feel included. I was no longer undocumented, the government knows I’m here, they know my name, and they know my face. I wasn’t alone in this feeling, the other 750,000 who applied also must’ve had a feeling of relief and gratitude, but now we are scared.
I lived my life like any other child around me. Yet, I knew I was different
The road that former President Barack Obama carved out for us is now being threatened by the current president, Donald Trump. DACA only grants temporary legal status in the United States to children who were brought here, through no fault of their own, a chance to live in this country. To study in this country. To give back to this country. DACA was a sort of safety net for immigrant children. It made their parents happy to know that their child has a chance better than theirs. I thought as long as I keep a clean record, do my best in school, work hard, and never give up hope then one day I will be standing in a court room with a judge in front of me ready to swear me in as an American citizen. That hope is quickly fading, but I am latching on to every last bit. Me and the other 750,000 immigrants whose lives started in a different country, but thrived in America.
My life is no longer in my country of origin. My life is here. In America, in Massachusetts. This is where I grew up, this is where I am from, this is my home.
Editor’s note: A list of legal resources related to immigration is available at our office. Remember our purpose is to be a safe place, where you can feel comfortable to share thoughts and questions, or just to talk for a while. We are at 13 Mellen.