Editor’s note: The Trump administration’s immigration policies have public schools across the country trying to figure out how to support and protect their immigrant students, teachers, and families. We are sharing the firsthand stories of DREAMers to highlight how law-abiding undocumented individuals contribute to public education in the U.S. To join us in ensuring ALL children and young adults have access to a quality education and an opportunity to pursue their dreams, visit stand.org/daca.
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Coming here to the U.S. in 1995 at the age of 8, I still remember how New York was so foreign to me. That snow storm, the people, school – everything was just a pure cultural shock. It took time, but I was able to adapt to the environment, to the people, the craziness of the city, and to high school. I can – no, I want – to say that I am a true New Yorker and American. But I am not, and it is because I am undocumented.
It wasn’t until the end of high school when I was told that I have no papers. At first I did not understand what that meant. It wasn’t until my freshman year of college when I wanted to look for an internship that I realized I cannot do anything. I couldn’t work, drive, or even open a bank account. I was in a dark place. I was in this place where I see everyone moving up in their life and I am stuck in one spot not being able to do anything. I was angry at everyone and at my parents for making me go through this pain.
Even with all this, I was able to find my true calling. With the help of many people, I decided to become a school counselor. I want to work with high school students and share my experience. I want to show them that even in the darkest time, they must not give in.
For me, everything has been about timing. When I obtained my masters in school counseling, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals act was announced. I was finally able to live a normal life and “catch up” to my peers. Now I work in a high school that I truly enjoy.
I still have to worry about my future. The loss of DACA could mean that I might lose my job and career. But I am not afraid. I will continue fighting for what I love and keep working with my students no matter what happens.