Undocumented Student Speaks Out

Karla Romero, Co-Editor-in-Chief

There are many things in life we won’t agree with. That’s because life isn’t really fair. It’s not fair that I don’t get to go to the top school for my chosen career, because it’s just not an option regardless of my journalistic abilities. It’s not fair that my parents have to bust their behinds to provide for our family and be upstanding citizens of the country I was raised in, only to come home and hear what new racist comment a presidential candidate has made about who we are.

Yes, I’m an immigrant. No, I wasn’t born here. No, I did not come here legally. But, I’ve worked hard all my life to make something of it and make my parents proud. I want to prove to them that they made the right choice in leaving everything they’d ever known to give me a better life and a million more opportunities. So maybe I have to stay in Texas for college, because unless I get into an Ivy League, that’s my only option. I’ve learned to accept that. It’s just the way life is. No, it’s not fair, but then what is?

When President Obama (of whom I’m a big fan) implemented Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) my life changed a smidge. Not a whole lot. But enough that no one would ever have to know that I’m not really an American unless I told them so. I used to think that was a good thing. I used to think that as a DACA student I was being blessed with the ability to hide who I am. But that’s not what I think anymore.

I’m proud of my heritage. I’m proud to be bilingual. I’m proud that I know where I come from, and I love my roots. But I’m also proud to have had the opportunity to grow up where I did. I’m proud of myself, because with my background not much is expected of me. As a soon-to-be first generation college student, I am proud that I can say that about myself. I’m proud of the fact that if I keep up my grades just one more year I’ll have automatic entrance to some of the most selective universities in my state. I’m also extremely proud of the fact that I feel confident enough to apply to an Ivy League. I’m proud of the fact that being raised in the free world gave me the chance to be a part of good public education. I’m proud of the fact that I have the chance to be whoever I want to be. My life is in my hands because of that.

img_2462So life isn’t fair. If it was, the Supreme Court would’ve had nine judges for the DAPA/DACA2 case and five would’ve ruled in favor of the programs. But life isn’t fair. And that’s ok. Because of the fact that it’s not fair, I’ve learned that fair is really just another word for easy. My life hasn’t been too terribly fair. And it hasn’t been easy; I tell myself no one’s has been. When life is hard and it’s unfair you learn to value what you have. You learn to work for everything. But you also learn to ask for things. If no one had asked for it, DACA wouldn’t have happened. If I hadn’t applied for it (another word for “asked,” really) I wouldn’t be where I am. I wouldn’t have been able to have my first job the summer before my junior year. I wouldn’t have been able to do an internship and a job the summer before my senior year. And without those jobs I wouldn’t be able to pay for the workshops and conferences that I go to for journalism to grow and learn more. Without the opportunities that I’ve had, I would never be where I am today. I wouldn’t have had such a prestigious internship. I wouldn’t be the editor of two school publications. I wouldn’t be considering top universities, thinking I have a shot at them. But I am. Because people gave me chances.

Of course, some of those people are completely against immigration. But maybe we should realize there are so many more people just like me, people who make something of themselves and are productive members of society. We’ve just been too scared to admit who we are for so long that the few who aren’t productive members of society outshine those of us who are. I don’t want that anymore. I’m proud to be a DACA student. And I’d hate for someone to run this country, who doesn’t know me and doesn’t realize that I can be someone amazing, to take everything I’ve worked for away from me in one fell swoop, simply because they can and because they’re full of prejudice. Please, let’s give people like me a chance. Let’s try to put our prejudices aside. Because there’s a little bit of everything everywhere you go. There are plenty of people who were born here and have many more opportunities than I do just throwing them away. There are also tons of people who have those opportunities and work hard and take advantage of them just as much as I do. With the election coming up, I want us all to remain conscious of who we’re voting for and what we’re voting for. The right to vote is an amazing thing to have. Don’t waste it, and don’t use it lightly. I’d love for my thoughts to matter and to have the ability to vote like others do.