Tell me about your family. When did you come to America?
I was born in Caracas, Venezuela. My parent were middle class citizens in the country, my mother was the secretary of a lawyer and my father used to sell arts and leather belts in different artisan fairs around the country. My parents never attend college, my mother graduate high school and my father was taken out of school in the third grade so he could assist the family by working. Both of my parents created a life for my sister and me, and after Hugo Chavez won presidency in Venezuela back in 1998 they knew that lot of economy and political changes were going to take place and Venezuela started to become a country that was not fitted for the middle class. My parents decided to migrate to United States at the start of 2002, my father was the first one to come and in December of 2002 my mother brought my sister and I with a tourist visa which we overstayed. I was 9 years old my sister was 4 when we landed in Newark Airport NJ.
Tell me more about your childhood and growing up in America?
My childhood growing up in America was not the greatest experience. For starter I did not have a childhood, I became an extra hand to my parents. I attended a predominantly white school. Nobody looked like me nor did they share my culture and that was a major change. Since I did not speak English I had to repeat the end of third grade, as well. I remember that my third grade teacher screamed at me because I used to write my papers in Spanish and not in English. I remember her doing it in front of the class and it traumatized me to the point that I wouldn’t speak to anyone during my third and fourth grade years at Magowan Middle School. ESL was mandatory but after six months I was taken out of the program because I understood the language. This also meant that I was the translator to my family, I was taken to every appointment, had to make all the calls and write all the letters my parents needed assistance with. I was there at every school event to help them understand what was going on, I had to break the news down regarding any current events. I was treated as an adult just because I understood the English language.
In the years to come, when I started middle school at Ridgway there were more Latinos in the class but there was never a big sense of community. That being said, I was always bullied and it drove in the feeling that I did not belong in this country. I always knew I was an immigrant I never felt American, I always felt like an outcast which cultivated the perfect environment for my mental health to decline at a very young age.
How has DACA helped you?
DACA has been a tremendous help. It has been a relief that has allowed me to continue moving forward. For starters it allowed me to get my driver license and have a valid working permit and social security that allowed me to start working right after graduating high school. It has also provided me the opportunity to continue my education as well. Having DACA also allowed me to open my own business which is called Innovated Lab Designs and business that creates kits that allowed college student take online physics and astronomy classes with Rowan College at Burlington County. Not only that but it has allowed me to become a bigger advocate and expand my knowledge on what immigration is and how the system works around immigration and immigrants.
Where did you go to school, and/or where do you work?
I attended Magowan Elementary school, Ridgway Middle School, and Burlington County Institute of Technology. I graduated from Rowan College at Burlington County with a dual Associates one in Engineering and one in Business. I am currently attending Rutgers Business School in New Brunswick and looking forward to majoring in Supply Chain Management.
I work full time at NJBIA, and of course runn Innovated Lab Designs on the side.
What are your biggest hopes and fears right now?
As of today my hopes are limited to the little things like passing the semester. I have lost most of my hope these past couple of months, unfortunately.
I fear the risk of deportation every day and ‘fear’ isn’t the right word — it’s a reality that my family and I have, in a way, accepted. We have concluded, that this may be our reality for the rest of our lives if government policies regarding immigration do not change.
What are your dreams for the future?
I have many dreams but stability is the one I cling to every day. To be stable and not have the anxiety of being undocumented. To have a path towards citizenship that not only benefits my sister and I but my parents as well and the community that is behind us. Aside from stability, I dream of finishing my degree. I would like the opportunity to get my bachelors, pursue grad school, excel at grad school and eventually earn a PhD. I would love if my parents were able to see me, a first generation daughter, pursue and continue her higher education.
Of course, having a job at one of the top fortune 500 companies, getting into the c-suite level, and even teaching in college, continue to advocate and make change for the generations to come are all dreams too. One of the biggest dreams for me would be to leave a positive impact in my community.
What is your message to other Americans, members of Congress, and the President?
My message is a question and it is very simple — if America was turning into a country that was hindering its people and forcing their hand, what would you do? Would you pick your bags leave everything behind and migrate to a new land for a better tomorrow for you and your family? Or would you stay, even if staying meant suffering from disease, famine, and no hope for the future?
If you would leave, leave for something promising — how can you condemn my parents for doing what they knew was best for their children? If you would leave everything behind for a better tomorrow how can you think of my community in such a negative way?
What jobs are we stealing from you? What harm are we truly doing to you and this country?
We know that America was built by immigrants it is embedded in the history of this nation. Immigration has brought economic growth, innovative ideas, entrepreneurial people, business markets, different cultures, and so much more. If we take out the immigrant community what is America going stand for and be left with?