Yadira A, 28, St. Petersburg, FL, Born in Ixmiquilpan Hidalgo, Mexico
I’m very much on my own in this country — without any family. I originally came to the States with my mom and older sister when I was five. We crossed the Mexican-U.S. border by just walking through. It was a different time. We went to Memphis to stay with a friend but she was being abused by her boyfriend so my mom knew that we couldn’t stay. For some reason, she took us to Florida, even though we knew no one there. Somehow we managed to survive in Florida until I was 11 when my mom’s need for tumor surgery forced our return to Mexico. Once my mom had her surgery, she left my sister and me with a neighbor and the two of us took care of each other. We split cooking and cleaning chores and basically raised ourselves. Four years later, my mom came back for me but has since returned to Mexico to enjoy being a grandmother to my sister’s children. I decided not to leave with my mom, even though she wants me to be with her, because my life is here. This is where I can make something of myself.
I’m in my second year at St. Petersburg College where I’m working on an ESL teaching degree. I hope to teach elementary school. I work two jobs to earn money for school – one as an office manager and another in a fast-food restaurant. I graduated high school in 2006 but didn’t get my diploma until I passed the statewide exam in 2013. It was then that I qualified for in-state tuition. I also have a scholarship, but money is always tight.
DACA has really made a difference in my life. I was able to apply for college, get in-state tuition and secure a work permit. Since I was also eligible for a Florida driver’s license, I learned how to drive and now own a car. There was no need to learn how to drive before DACA because I wasn’t going to drive illegally and live with the fear of being pulled over.
Though I miss my family, my future is here. I have given up everything to pursue my dream of becoming a teacher. I work hard and take care of myself. In a country that needs more good teachers, I will be an asset – earning my citizenship and giving back to the U.S. — grateful for the opportunities I have found here. I hope by the time I graduate college that immigration reform will be a reality and I will be shown a pathway to citizenship.