Why I joined the #BeyondTheWall Movement to Fight for Immigrants

After telling my high school teacher that I was undocumented, he joked, “Daaaamn, Pamela. You really are the minority of the minority.” And between laughs and high school classes, worrying about college tuition and my future without legal papers, I became stronger.

My family and I made the decision to move from Peru to the United States in 2001 because my parents struggled economically and they wanted their children to receive a better education. My mom told me, we would have a better life, and a better school. That’s all you need to tell an eleven year old child obsessed with going to an American University.

Months after moving to our new home in Newark, New Jersey, however, a horrible tragedy hit our country. The day after September 11, I wore a headscarf in solidarity with the Muslim Community who was facing discrimination after the devastating day. That summer, I had been exploring my faith and decided to read about Islam since my uncle was Egyptian. Ultimately Islam was the practice I felt closest to.

Because of my own personal faith journey, at twelve, I knew that the attack on the Twin Towers had been a terrorist attack, not a muslim action, and felt compelled to show my classmates that this community was peaceful. An eighth grader stopped me in my tracks at recess and yelled out:

“WHY DON’T YOU GO BACK TO YOUR COUNTRY.”

I laugh now when I think about it, because a friend had to translate it, but it still hurts to realize I wasn’t welcomed. I was the minority of the minority: a woman, an immigrant, Latina, and soon, Muslim.

My fight is for the 11.3 million undocumented immigrants whose lives are in limbo, for more than 4 million U.S. citizen children who could lose a parent to deportation. My fight is for my parents, who live day to day — underpaid and unrewarded because their status prevents them from creating their own business and paying for health insurance. My fight is for my siblings and my youngest brother, who has cried over mass deportation because it means becoming an orphan.

I fight along FWD.us, a bipartisan organization mobilizing the tech community, supporting coalitions, so we may have commonsense immigration reform in 2017. My fight is to live in this country that I call home because when my mom promised me better, I didn’t hear “easy”. I heard a better opportunity waiting for my family beyond the wall.

To see more stories, go to gobeyondthewall.org. Then share your own story using #beyondthewall.

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