By Fiona, ASPIRE (Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education) Member
In honor of National Coming Out Week: Undocumented and Unafraid we are featuring stories of API dreamers. The DREAM Act would provide undocumented students that arrived before the age of 16 in the US a pathway to legalization.
My name is Fiona and I am undocumented and unafraid.
In 2001, I came to this country with my father and sister from the Philippines. My mother had already been working here for over a year and was being petitioned by her employer to get a green card. Both my parents decided that it was unhealthy for my sister and me to grow up without the presence of our mother in our lives so we immigrated to the US with the intention of adjusting our status in a few years. Unfortunately, the law firm used by my mother’s company was found guilty of committing fraud and this dramatically affected our case.
Our application was pending for a long time. And through those years, my family underwent a lot of emotional challenges: my parents got divorced and our family was torn apart because of it. My mother eventually remarried. My step father was able to adjust my mom and my younger sister’s immigration status, except for mine. Because I was over the age of 18 I couldn’t adjust my status with the rest of my family. Now I am in deportation proceedings. I’ve had to stand in front of an immigration judge to defend my right to stay in this country I call home.
At first, my mother forbade me from talking about my status to anyone. I didn’t even tell my extended family or close friends for a long time. This made me feel like I was facing this problem alone. I became depressed and felt hopeless, until I heard about the federal DREAM Act. This piece of legislation would give children who came to this country before the age of 16 a pathway to legalization if they attended two years of college or served two years in the military. I closely followed the news surrounding the DREAM Act. Last September, I found out that there was a rally in my neighborhood in support of the bill. This was my first time going to a rally but it was good to meet so many other young people in my situation.
Now I am an active member of ASPIRE, the first Asian undocumented student group. Even though the federal DREAM Act did not pass last year, I am still grateful that I was introduced to this great group of people. They give me hope and together we work toward informing others of the injustice of this immigration system, promoting higher education for other undocumented students, and ultimately, a way to prevent deportation of other DREAM Act eligible students like myself. I want others to know that it’s okay to be undocumented, we shouldn’t be ashamed of a situation we had no control over. We should do something about it and join groups like ASPIRE, because together is the only way we’re going to get justice.