Tell me about your family. When did you come to America?
My family and I traveled from Lima, Peru with the anticipation to start a better and fulfilling life in a new country. I was 11 years old at the time, and helped my mom take care of my 2 year old brother with my 10 year old sister when we took our flight. My dad had already traveled months before we arrived.
Tell me more about your childhood and growing up in America?
When I first came to the country, I became a shy person, barely comfortable with saying my own name (because in Peru, we pronounce Pamela differently). I started introducing myself as Pam because my American citizen aunt recommended that, to make friends. I made friends despite my shyness and quickly graduated from ESL — English as a Second Language class — I wanted to prove to my family that I could be a great student like I had been in Peru. When I entered high school, I wanted to leave behind my timidness so I signed up for the debate team, where I realized my passion for history could expand beyond textbooks into argumentative sports.
As a child in this country, I felt my world expanding into possibilities I only imagined I could reach if I lived in the US. As a child in Peru, I had daydreamed of attending Universities in the US — my US citizen cousin had given me that idea at 5 years old. As a child, I thought those dreams were attainable, as a teenager, I realized being undocumented would limit my possibilities.
How has DACA helped you?
DACA gave me my first job in politics, where I could use what I learned at school and practice it to protect my community. My first job with DACA was working for then Mayor Booker on his run for Senate — in my own hometown of Newark, NJ. DACA gave me a job, an introduction to something I was good at, and health insurance. I finally earned the right to be covered by health insurance — I visited a doctor, went to the OBGYN, and made sure I was healthy. DACA didn’t just introduce me to a career I was passionate for, it also gave me an opportunity to take care of myself.
Where did you go to school, and/or where do you work?
I graduated from Marist College, Poughkeepsie, NY and now work for FWD.us as their northeast organizing director.
What are your biggest hopes and fears right now?
After an encounter with homeland security earlier this year, I am terrified of the possibility of not having protective status with a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers. I’m terrified that I’ll spend the holiday break worrying on how to best protect my family because they depend on me and I need them to be safe. I wish I could freely talk about my hopes — to continue working in advocacy, to move into campaigns and local policy work, but those aspirations are hard to think about when my future hangs in limbo. I hope that we pass the Dream Act. I hope that we work for a legislative solution so I can start planning my future.
What are your dreams for the future?
I want to continue to work with government, for the people, on policies that will strengthen us as a fee democracy, without the fear that I could be persecuted because of my immigration status.
What is your message to other Americans, members of Congress, and the President?
We didn’t become Dreamers without our parents, without our communities. We became dreamers because despite the odds, we dared to hope and love one another and continue to protect each other. We don’t want to spend the Holidays preparing for the worst. If there was ever a time to pass the Dream Act, that time is now.