Edilsa L, 23, Austin, Texas, Born in Guatemala
It’s a very hard story to tell, even now after 10 years. I was 13, caring for my siblings in Guatemala, when I was kidnapped and separated from them. I was supposed to be responsible for my siblings but I wasn’t even able to take care of myself. My captor took me from place to place where I was told to serve other people. I was shoved in cars and made to walk for miles. I didn’t know where I was and couldn’t really communicate with
those I saw. I couldn’t trust anyone. Once I was left in the desert for five days and nights with no food or water. Finally, someone picked me up and took me to a house where I was forced to clean. Again, I was relocated and taken to another house full of men. When they took me with them, I was hidden in a truck full of oranges. When I got out of the truck, I was forced to walk through the night to yet another place where a man tried to abuse me. Somehow I was able to escape. Walking through the streets in some strange town, I got help from a lady who told me I was in McAllen, Texas. She put me up in her home and located my mom who was already in the States. Since I had disappeared, my family feared the worst. But I wasn’t dead. No, thanks to God, I made it to the U.S. after a long, dark journey. I had survived. I got to hug my mother again.
I’ve been in the States for a decade now and my life is much better. All I saw in Guatemala was hunger, poverty and homelessness. I have nightmares about being sent back. I don’t know what I would do if that happened. I would like for my family to be together but my two youngest siblings live in Guatemala, and my mother and my other sister live in Houston, Texas. One of my sisters and I are eligible for DACA. My high school teachers helped me pay for DACA. After graduating from high school, I started college. Since adolescence, I’ve endured homelessness and hunger, even after arriving in the U.S. With DACA, I got the papers necessary to work and to get treated more fairly. No one believed I could go to college but I have, and I’m studying very hard. I’m also working in a real estate company. I can improve my life and help support my family. I hope to have a career in finance and international relations or economics. And I don’t have to be afraid of being deported as long as there is DACA. My ultimate dreams are to own my own company and to be united with and help support my family. I want to do what I can to make their lives easier, especially my mom. Currently, I’m involved with the DACA clinics at the University Leadership Initiative at UT Austin. I help others complete their paperwork and learn more about their rights and all that still needs to be done for immigration reform. I know I can make a difference, that I can contribute to America.