The Omniscient’s Byron Aguilar interviewed an undocumented Northwood High School graduate and current college student.
1. Why did you decide to come to America?
My parents decided to come to the U.S. because they pretty much ran out of options. They were barely making ends meet, and job opportunities were low. We had to constantly move around because my dad could not find a stable job that could provide enough for us. Then, one day, my dad got offered a job in the U.S. and he took it because it was the best option he had.
2. How did you get here?
My family and I arrived in the U.S. when I was about five years old. My dad arrived in the U.S. a few months before us in order to save up enough money to bring my mother, brother and I to the U.S. I don’t remember much of the trip, but the thing I do remember was constantly moving.
3. Is there any way college life is different for an undocumented vs. a documented person?
College life is definitely different for an undocumented student. Traveling abroad does not seem like an option. Finding internships is much more difficult. There are research conferences and travel awards that require you to be a US citizen or Permanent Resident. Before DACA was an option finding a job and getting into a college was very difficult.
4. Was it difficult to get scholarships?
It was so difficult getting a scholarship that I almost gave up on going to college. I had worked my butt off in high school in order to increase my chances of getting into college and getting a scholarship. As I looked for scholarships and [applied] for schools, my hopes kept on sinking. There are college policies that prevented me from being accepted into certain colleges because I was undocumented and could not pay for college. Scholarships for undocumented students were very scarce, so I thought that getting one seemed almost impossible.
5. Is it harder to get a job in your specific field because of documentation?
I think it is hard to get a job in my specific field of study because I’m having a hard time getting an internship as is. The only jobs I’ve had so far are being a landscaper and a dish washer. Most internships and jobs require a person to be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident. Finding a job in your field is a huge struggle.
6. How does being an immigrant in general impact a child’s life?
I think being an immigrant has a huge impact on a child’s life because you are taking a child away from their extended family, friends, culture and home and placing them in a new culture and home that they have never seen before. The child must adapt to their new home, and that comes with lots of struggles and barriers. You eventually grow up thinking that you are just like the rest of your friends: an American. But you soon realize that you are not because more barriers start to get in the way. You can’t a job or driver’s license when all your friends are getting them. You work just as hard and sometimes harder than your friends, but you are unable to go to college. You learn to live a different life only to later find out that you’ll be rejected. Sometimes you are left thinking, “Where do I belong?”