Maria, 25, Detroit, Michigan, Born in Mexico
My mother, younger brother and I came to the U.S. 16 years ago on a tourist visa when I was nine years old. We came to reunite with my dad who had been living in Detroit for almost four years by himself. Once we were all together in the U.S, my family decided to overstay our visa rather than return to Mexico and be separated again. I have lived in Detroit ever since.
Working my way through college, I graduated valedictorian of my class in 2012. After graduating I did a year of service in Milwaukee, WI and then returned to Detroit to work full-time with a nonprofit service corps which enlists young college graduates to serve impoverished communities in the U.S. and abroad. This fall I will begin my studies on my master’s degree in social work at the University of Michigan.
In 2012 I applied for DACA and have since renewed my application. While DACA is only a temporary fix, it gave me so much. DACA provided the freedom to work, to drive, to be. It gave me some peace of mind. I had the opportunity to go after my goals without fear of being deported.
My parents left everything behind to give my brother and me incredible opportunities. We are working hard to make them proud. We are the first college graduates in our family, both of us working to obtain master’s degrees – mine in social work, his in architecture.
I think people have a right to choose where they want to live and to strive for the life they want to make. I have worked hard to get where I am -- without handouts, without government aid. I know that I contribute to making America a better place. DACA gave me hope that one day soon, there will be a path to citizenship. The U.S. is my home and this is where I live and work and dream.