Undocumented and Unafraid
Hello all you lovely followers of mine! I know it’s been a really long time since I’ve posted but I have something that I’m really eager to share with everyone! My freshman year of college (Fall 2013) I had to write a paper placing myself in the shoes of someone I couldn’t relate to. The assignment was called the Diversity Role and seeing how I never miss an opportunity to spread word about the DREAM Act, I wrote as though I was an undocumented immigrant. My professor was hesitant about my topic because it was “controversial” and a “political hot topic,” but I assured him I wasn’t going to offend anyone and that I knew what I was talking about. After I presented the paper to my class, everyone was so interested in it that I was able to answer a ton of questions and tell everyone about my experience volunteering with the Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance. Here’s the paper that sparked a great discussion:
My name is Sierra Wright and I am an undocumented immigrant. My family came to the United States from Mexico when I was three years old. We flew into Indianapolis, Indiana on a temporary visa, which expired six years later. Like an estimated four to five million other immigrants with expired visas, my family never left because the United States became our home (Weil, 2013). I have lived here for as long as I can remember. It is the only place that I know and I love living in the United States. We went through a lot in order to have better opportunities in this country, but we’ve only been met with difficulties, stereotypes, and prejudice (Question 1).
I’m eighteen now and I don’t remember much about coming to the United States. Although this country has been my home for practically my entire life, I still have a constant conflict both internally and externally each day. Inside, I struggle with knowing that my choices are more limited than those of my peers. At first, I hated that I am undocumented and can’t do everything my friends can do. I hated that the only thing that separates me from them is a nine digit social security number. Part of me wished my parents would have immigrated legally, while the other part of me didn’t want to blame them because I know they had good intentions. I didn’t want anyone to know that I am not a citizen because I was afraid of what they would have thought or what they would have said. Many people call me “illegal” as if I am a law that can be broken. It’s derogatory and degrading. I am a human being, not a speeding ticket. I am constantly told to “speak English” or to go back to my country when I don’t even remember Mexico (Question 5). Although I hear all these things, I don’t let it bother me. I have learned that being undocumented is not the end of the world for me; my life is just beginning.
As the valedictorian of my class, learning is my favorite thing to do (Question 7). I would absolutely love to become a surgical neurologist, but doing that will be virtually impossible (Question 4). I could go to college, but only sixteen states allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition (“Undocumented Student,” 2013). Although I have lived in Indiana for fifteen years, I am required to pay out-of-state tuition, which is three times the rate of in-state tuition. Both of my parents work really hard to provide for me and my sister. My mom is a housekeeper in a hotel and my dad is a construction worker. They both have to work “under the table” because they are undocumented. Their bosses are always paying them less money than what they earned just because my parents can’t do anything about it. They refuse to let my sister and I work so that we can focus on school. Even if they allowed us to work, all job applications require a social security number, which neither of us has (Question 3). No matter how much my parents work, they’ll never be able to afford sending me to college. Scholarships and financial aid are out of the question because they require social security numbers and proof of citizenship or permanent residency (Lieszkovszky, 2013).
My life isn’t much different from any other eighteen year old girl who loves to shop, go to school every day, and pledge allegiance to the flag (Question 2). Actually, I didn’t even know I was undocumented until I finally turned sixteen and my parents were forced to tell me why I couldn’t get a job or my driver’s license. Up until that point, I had always thought I was living the best of both worlds. I had all the perks of being both Hispanic and American; well at least I thought I did. I was able to enjoy delicious Hispanic food as I watched football, my favorite sport. I listened to both Daddy Yankee and Tim McGraw. I celebrated El Grito for the Mexican day of independence and the Fourth of July. In my mind, I was every bit of a Hispanic American. It took me a while to muster up the courage to be able to say that I am undocumented and unafraid. People who don’t know much about the process of applying for citizenship ask me questions like, “Why don’t you just get your papers (Question 6)?” As if it’s really that simple. If I could get them as easy as I could count, I definitely would have had them by now.
It’s estimated that 65,000 undocumented students graduate high school each year (Talusan, 2012). That means 65,000 of us are tired of living in fear of ourselves or someone we know being deported each day. We have the same hopes, dreams, and aspirations as all other Americans: to succeed and be the best that we possibly can. We all want to become a part of the American dream. My name is Sierra Wright and my nationality does not define who I am.
Posted on February 16, 2015, in Entertainment, International, School/College and tagged College, Colleges and Universities, DREAM Act, DREAMers, immigrant, unafraid, unapologetic, undocumented. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.