Making History / Stories / Uncertainty

Abel B.

Abel B, 21, Phoenix, AZ, Born in Mexico City

abelI know what it’s like to put myself at risk, to fight for something to improve my life and the lives of thousands of others, against overwhelming odds, and win. I was one of the plaintiffs in the case that got Arizona’s university system to offer in-state tuition to undocumented students – young people like me who’d lived here all our lives and couldn’t afford to get a college education if we had to pay three times what state residents paid. It took the Arizona Dream Act Coalition and so many supporters to make this change but I’m happy to say I helped make history. And now I’m able to attend Arizona State where I’m majoring in marketing while interning in my field in marketing research. I hope to someday get my MBA and open my own ad agency. Being allowed to pay in-state tuition will make all this possible.

It all started with DACA and my 2012 successful application which allowed me to take advanced community college classes while still in high school. Arizona’s community colleges already offered in-state tuition to undocumented students, but the state universities put a four-year degree out of reach for most of us because in-state tuition wasn’t available until our lawsuit.

I came to the States as a toddler and don’t remember much of anything before my life here in Phoenix. I live with my parents to be able to afford college. I have two brothers and a sister, all of whom were born in Arizona and are U.S. citizens. My parents will be eligible for DAPA if it is upheld by the Supreme Court. My mom has worked for the same couple for 14 years and they volunteered to help with my college tuition while my parents provide money for books and expenses. I’m truly fortunate that I can concentrate on my studies and intern in my field. My family has always made my education a top priority.

I’m an asset to this country because I work to make my community better. I stand up for my rights and help others do the same. I see myself as a leader and helped establish a business marketing club in my high school under DECA, an organization recognizing the world’s emerging leaders. I also introduced the same concept to my community college. I competed on an international level in DECA and was the chapter president for two years and have served as the state vice president this past year.

I’m working hard at educating myself, at improving my community and acting as an ambassador for the Undocumented. You can’t talk about me as an impersonal number once you meet me and know my story. I change hearts and minds about immigration just by being who I am. I love this country and want to make it better. This is where I belong. It’s the only home I know. I can’t understand why some want to hold back all the incredible potential of immigrants, why they’d deny an education or a driver’s license to those of us who are struggling every day to earn our citizenship, to make a positive difference.

Though I can’t vote, I’m active in the democratic process and have been registering those who can vote since 2010. Living in Arizona is hard with new immigrant hate bills being introduced in the legislature all the time. It makes for much uncertainty about the future and anxiety about acceptance. However, I will continue with my education and my community activism for social justice. In the fight for in-state tuition, I came to believe that immigration reform was possible and I will hold onto that belief and work to make it a reality.