After my father entered the U.S. with the help of coyotes, he saved enough money to send someone for my mom, my two-year old sister and me, eight at the time. We were excited about seeing our father as we got on the plane from Jalisco to Tijuana. From there we were to cross the border by car. We were given fake papers and practiced our new identities, but my little sister kept loudly correcting us, especially me, so we were separated. I went with a couple posing as my aunt and uncle, who were total strangers. My mom and sister came in another vehicle. I remember being scared and feeling alone. We were reunited in a parking lot. Its exact U.S. location remains unknown, but it’s where we started a new life in a new country. From there we went to live with my mom’s sister for a while. Our family was together again but there was always the fear of deportation hanging over our heads.
After graduating from high school with honors, I entered college studying and working two jobs. This May I will graduate from Pasadena City College where I majored in political science with a plan to work in L.A. city government and make a difference in the lives of undocumented Americans. On my graduation cap, I’ve proudly written “UC Berkeley Undocumented.” I’ve been accepted by this elite university even as I struggle to be accepted by the country I call home.
I signed up for DACA when I graduated high school so that I could get a Social Security card and work permit to earn money for college and to help support my family. With deferred action, I felt like a normal teenager after living in so much fear. I felt more hope and a little safer. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. Being undocumented is kind of a blessing. It has taught me to work hard, take advantage of every opportunity and help others. I give back to my family and my community and I feel like I belong in this country.