“A face without a name”
“ A face without a name” has been my life since I came to United States for the first time when I was only 14 years old. Since I was in 8th grade I knew I wanted to pursue my education as an architect. My parents decided that United States would be a better place to further my studies, skills and be recognize. How far from the truth were they?… But although the barrier had always been there; the so called “papers”; that did not make me gave up on my dreams.
I was a straight A student in High School and many of my teachers try to help me to get any help to go to college, but at that time there was no help for undocumented students. My dream to go straight to a University was crushed at that point. I had the ability, the capacity but not the “papers”. It did not stop me from going to College and get a two year degree even though I had to pay more than triple than a regular student. I work full time and study full time and always get straight A’s. I won the prize for the best residential design in my class that was evaluated by 4 architects and an interior designer and graduated with Honors. Since I could go no further after getting my Associates Degree, I started a family and working in something that was not my career for more than seven years. Many times I wanted to give up and I started creating a future in the country where the father of my children is. Although I struggle I started my own business and with the help of God and my boss and friends I became successful in that area. But you see, I could never had anything on my name, always invisible, always a face without a name. Everything became to sink in when my license was about to expired and I was not going to be able to drive without fear of being detained or arrested.
I visited another state with the idea to move there, the only reason was the license, but on the way back, at the airport I got held by an immigration officer because my passport was expired. I try to stay calm but I realize I was going to be detained for something I did not had any decision on, coming to United States and staying after my visa expired. I was only 14 when I came, I was a good human being, excellent student, entrepreneur and now a mother of a 2 year old. “What did I do wrong?” I ask to myself many times in that chair trying to calm myself down and think of a solution. I had no plans, no backup for this situation. You see, when your are doing your best you never think you will be arrested for no reason, you just don’t think that way. I was taken to a detention center and I had to walk through the whole airport with my hands handcuffed to my back like a delinquent. I am just glad my kid was not there to see this.
I was a whole week in a detention center without seeing sunlight, only hearing my 2 year old over the phone and trying to keep calm. Thanks to the help of family members, I got the money to bail me out… Before I got detained my plan was to spend time with my family in Thanksgiving day where they lived but after I got held and release I just went home with the fear of being deported the next time I had to go to court because the lawyer told me that I could not apply for anything to stay in a country that I consider my own, where I had my business, my family and I contributed for so long. After my first court date, they give me an extension and I knew it was going to be my last court since I decided to ask for voluntary departure. I was in fear, I lived in fear… I did not know nothing of the new place where I was going to go. But I did not gave up and fight again… Almost close to my court date, a light shine in my way. It was when President Obama signed the executive order for the DACA program. I was left with no words. I immediately apply for it since I qualify in every requirement they needed. My fear was gone, my days were brighter, I could focus more in my son and in my goals. It is incredible what a little piece of paper with few numbers can bring to an undocumented person. I was able to apply for better jobs. I was able to put my business under my name. I was able to drive without fear and I was able to take my children to places where I could not go before because of fear of getting a ticket. I only went out the necessary trips but now I could travel and visit my family in another state. I also try to continue my education but some states do not let you get in as a regular student you still have to pay out of state tuition, so I could not afford that much with a family. But, little by little I was seeing that my life started to change, I was not afraid to say my name since it was accompanied with a legal status now. I was somebody now, The funny thing is that a simple paper called “social security number” could open so many doors; Access to healthcare, to car loans, to license, to jobs, to education, to a house, to freedom; At least that is how it was with me.
Now, that president Donald Trump took the presidency, my now 7 year old son ask me the cruel question that a 7 year old should not be worrying about; “Mom, you have papers right?, or President Trump will kick us out”… In that moment I thought, “What do I answer to my 7 year old, do I lie and make sure he does not worry about it or do I tell him the horrible truth that the President can take away my legal status with a simply stroke of a pen?” He repeated ask me the same question over and over, and cry about it thinking of the idea that we could be separated. I just simply reply “Do not worry my son everything is going to be ok” although inside me I was dying in fear again knowing that my future lies on the hands of the President and lawmakers and immigration officers. My story might be similar to a lot of DACA recipients… we are in a pause mode, not knowing what tomorrow will bring, but we keep moving forward, we keep fighting for our rights as human being, we keep achieving goals and learning new things in the process, we are here to stay and we will do anything in our power to stay here now not only for us, but for our children that are US citizens, Just as our parents sacrifice themselves leaving their home country, family members and a place where they called home, we also are sacrificing ourselves by working hard and being the best of the best to give our children better opportunities in education… something many of us, recipients of DACA could not make it happen because of the different state laws that still build barriers in front of us. We are not criminals, we are the present of this nation, and our children are the future of this nation.. A nation me and my children called home”