Luis R, 28, Santa Ana, CA, Born in Celeya, Mexico
When I came to the States with my brother, I was only 12. At that time, I had only one desire – to reunite with my parents who were already living here. I flew to Tijuana and my brother and I crossed the border in a car with people we had met. No one asked me anything. I would have had had no answers for authorities that would have helped my case. I was a kid missing my mom and dad. It was that simple.
For five years, we made a life together in Santa Ana. I had my family. I was home as far as I was concerned. When I was 17, my parents and siblings moved to Illinois, but I chose to remain in California where, as I graduated from high school, I began to realize that I was different from many of my classmates. I didn’t have the right papers to apply for college aid, to drive, to get a job. I was very much on my own and undocumented. My future was beyond uncertain but I didn’t give up. I was determined to go to college.
When DACA was announced, I applied and was accepted. With deferred action, I could breathe. I could plan. I was able to find better work and got a job at the Orange County Environmental Health Department where I process requests for environmental studies. Working full-time while going to school, I’ve earned two associate degrees, one in liberal arts and the other in TV video production. Now in my second semester at Cal State Fullerton, I’m working toward a BA in business administration. I’m very interest in technology, as well as pursuing management opportunities with my current employer.
DACA has given me some peace of mind but it has to be renewed every few years and there is always the uncertainty about the processing time, the political climate and the burden of its costs. It is not enough – this permanent limbo. When my dear grandmother was dying, I applied for advanced parole through DACA to return to Mexico to be with her. The bureaucracy took too long and my abuela was gone before I arrived. I didn’t get to see her to say goodbye and it broke my heart.
With all the hardships and uncertainty of being undocumented, I continue to earn my way and improve my skills. I’m also active in helping others and working for social justice, especially in the LGBT community. My advocacy expands beyond immigration reform to fighting for human rights for all. Whatever I do, I do from the heart because I care, because every human being matters, because it’s the right thing to do.