My name is Alma and I.M. Beyond Borders. Since I arrived to California when I was two years old, I never allowed my status to define my success. Even during college winning the largest private transfer scholarship (Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship), I collected brochures to study abroad in Thailand, England, and South America just to peek at what I thought was impossible. I absorbed my classmate’s study abroad stories as if they were my own, but it all changed when Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) gave me a SSN, DL, education, a job, hope, and the list goes on. Advance parole allowed me to see the world. I didn’t see my ill grandfather in Mexico, but I at least got an amazing experience in El Salvador. However, I still feel chains limiting my movement. Check out my story to be informed at what DACA has given me and how I’m going to fight just like my mother fought when she brought me to this country. #ISupportAlma #ISupportDACA #IMBeyondBorders.
I always remember the stories my mother would tell me and my sibling of how she managed to cross to 'El Otro Lado'. She would tell us how from 1992-1993 she made about five attempts to cross the California border with three toddlers. How during those unsuccessful attempts, she was detained by a border patrol, held for a day, and advised to not continue risking the lives of her children. How that one time a border patrol agent gave her and her children their very first snickers. How she would be left behind by the group because she had crying children who were hungry, cold, and tired. Or when she would sleep on the floor, she would pile us like 'taquaches' on her stomach so only she would be exposed to the bites of the 'alacranes' and insects. I was only two years old when she decided to take the long journey from Michoacán, Mexico to Farmersville, California. It was her mission to reunite with our father and flee poverty in Mexico. It was a journey many have attempted, but not everyone is fortunate to reach their destination. In 1993 she made it to this very foreign land, which I now call my permanent home.
As I got older, I came to learn about what it meant to be undocumented in this country and its limitations. At a young age, I did not fully understand it, but my first trial started when I began to work as a farm worker to support my family. First, it meant that I could not apply for “normal” job positions, not even at places like McDonald's. Second, I was unable to obtain a driver’s license or California ID. Third, access to higher education for undocumented students was very limited. Fourth, if I ever left the U.S I was never able to come back...
My name is Edy and I.M. Beyond Borders. From the streets of Chicago, I created a band called Quinto Imperio because music was the tool that made me free. It became a safe space for a few neighborhood friends and my family to express our immigrant roots. With advance parole, I recently returned from Mexico City where I finally saw my grandmother and she made me feel stronger than ever. Community, understand that DACA wasn’t given to us. It was obtained thanks to a national effort of community organizers, activists, allies, etc. So, if this was taken away, we can’t just panic and cry, we have to get involved and join the movement to defend our rights. I urge you to find something that gives you strength like music and my grandmother did and fight for your rights. Check out how I did. #ISupportEddy #ISupportDACA
I was fifteen years old when I arrived to Chicago. What was supposed to be a holiday visit to my family already living in the U.S. for about three years, soon became one of the most difficult challenges I’ve had to encounter. First of all, my parents had just separated. As the older brother of two (one who was six and the other who was ten), I understood they needed me and I definitely needed them. Growing in the middle of our unfortunate family situation, trying to find our place in a new country, and adapting to our new life all at the same time was an energy-drainer.
It’d be redundant to describe all the difficulties we encountered keeping up with school-- learning the language, fitting in, etc. What left a mark in me was to see them working nonstop. It was sad to see my parents frustrated and exhausted after working long hours and still feeling they weren’t able to come afloat...
My heart is still heavy for my community. My heart is still heavy for all the fighters who lead the creation of DACA. My heart is also still heavy for the immigrants living with uncertainty of their future for 2017. Take a minute to read about what some are facing.
Since November, it seems as if we've been working backwards: instead of innovating DACA, we are solely trying to prevent it's termination. I've been living in the U.S., the place I call home, for most of my life. I worked two, and sometimes three, part-time jobs to get through college. During my time here, I was able to study, intern, and volunteer abroad with Advance Parole. I also was able to get 100% funding through scholarships the entire time. I recently graduated from a top business school and even landed a job with my dream company. The key take-away is: I'm not a criminal, as some have suggested. In fact, I have full belief that I maximized my time and gave the best I could. I love the country I've lived in for 20 years and I don't want to move anywhere else.
To add, as a worker I now pay a much heavier weight of taxes. My frustration isn't because it's necessailry "more," but because I don't have a say as to what the government does with my money. It, by no means, funds educational opportunities for people like me through FASFA because they are ineligible. I can't vote to reverse, vote to change, or have a voice.
Today we might stand in fear, but tomorrow we need to stand in hope. I sincerely wish Mr. Donald Trump makes the best out of his presidency because I will make sure he is being more than challenged ever day from people like me who are #HereToStay. I definitely don't hope he fails, because I know we are living under the same roof trying to protect OUR country. I hope our president-elect will Make America Greater, because I'm a forward thinker who believes America is great and has the potential to be even greater. To all my American family of all races, religions, colors, and ethnicities, he is the representative of our country, but WE are who drives it.
My homework to those who don't understand the immigrant community right now: read about DACA, how the program has helped us help our family, how many taxpayer dollars we put into OUR American system, and discover why we too love America so much.
Let's work together in 2017 and fight for A Greater America.
Love, an immigrant, DACAmented, Hispanic, female, professional, and AMERICAN.