Photo by Flickr user Todd Dwyer
Young undocumented immigrants, or “Dreamers,” have been at the forefront of advocacy for a path to citizenship. Deferred Action, a policy announced by the Obama administration in June, will allow many of these young people to have temporary legal status and work permits. Although some critics call it ‘backdoor amnesty,’ for many in Boyle Heights and across the country, it represents a chance for a future in this country. BoyleHeightsBeat.com will be running an occasional series — a compilation of immigrant stories written by ‘Dreamers,’ other undocumented people, and those who want to share their immigrant experience. Some authors will remain anonymous.
I still remember crossing the border from Mexico to the United States at the age of four. What I don’t recall much from my childhood was facing discrimination, rejection and humiliation for not being born on the “gringo side.”
It wasn’t until my senior year in high school that I fully faced the cold reality of the limitations brought on by my undocumented status. When it was time to apply for college, I couldn’t file for financial aid like many of my friends . And since my parents’ income was not enough for my tuition, I spent much time and energy on applying for scholarships.
But even with scholarships it was tough. A lot of them required students to be U.S. citizens””something I’m not. Despite this, I continued to work on scholarships that were suited for AB540 students like me, and with the help of organizations, teachers, counselors, my parents, and my community, I’ll be attending one of the California State University campuses in the fall with paid tuition.
As I’ve slowly become more involved in the immigration movement, I’ve witnessed the courage and achievements of thousands of ‘Dreamers’ and advocacy groups who have worked tirelessly for those of us who are simply trying to find a job or attend college. Their work has given me hope that we can continue to fight for the full implementation of the Dream Act.
Last June, when I heard the news over Twitter that the Obama administration would allow eligible young undocumented immigrants to apply for temporary legal status and work permits, and help stop the deportation of many, I couldn’t help but be happy. I told my mother about the possible opportunities of deferred action and I immediately had phone calls and emails from people showing their support.
As the application process for deferred action began this week, many jumped at the chance. Although I have been anticipating this moment for quite a while, I still have some questions I want to clear up before I actually apply. My biggest concern is: what will happen if Republican Nominee Mitt Romney wins the Election and he refuses to continue with this policy?
In the meantime, I have my passport and all the paperwork in line that will be required of me, and my older siblings and I plan to apply soon.
For many young undocumented immigrants like me, deferred action represents a victory”” a chance. I have hope that someday I will be able to drive, hop on a plane and get a job without the fear of being deported.
If you would like to contribute your immigrant story, email us at [email protected]