Opinion

I am a Dreamer

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Have you ever wondered how it would feel if you had a limit to your dreams and goals? If what you had proposed for yourself had an end? Normally, people would say that your limit would be the stars, in a figure of speech that means there is no limit since the sky is infinite, but what if the end were the stars and there was no opportunity for more? 

My name is Karen, and my dreams and goals were placed in a box of limitations once I stepped foot in U.S soil. I was born in San Miguel, El Salvador in 1997, where I grew up with my grandparents. In 1999, my parents decided to move to the United States to follow their American Dream. A few years later, it was my turn. 

During my first couple of years here I battled with English at school and Spanish at home. I was always put on the spot as that one different kid that could not distinguish her colors or numbers. I was constantly reminded that I was slower than everyone else. I repeated first grade and was continuously evaluated.

I beat the system once I got into third grade. I became an honors student in math, science, and social studies. At the moment, I thought to myself, “There’s nothing that could stop me now.” I was still too young to fully understand what that truly meant. My parents always talked about how they wanted me to succeed in school and get a career of my choice once I graduated college. They never placed a limit on my dreams, and they always inspired me to try my best. So I did.

As I got older, it was our duty to decide our career goal and work on it accordingly. But, this is when it hit me. I couldn’t. I couldn’t create a future; there was no future. As an immigrant, I was undocumented and there was no plan for after high school. I didn’t know that in order to continue my dream I had to have legal documentation. That was it for me, that was the end. 

Lucky for me, in 2012, the Obama administration established the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA, a program that provides temporary relief from deportation for eligible undocumented young adults and a renewable two-year work permit. As of January 2015, the Center of American Progress stated that “close to 640,000 people had obtained DACA status out of the 720,000 applicants. DACA has helped many of the burdens that undocumented students have in higher education—from gaining access to in-state tuition in some states, to being able to work legally for higher wages, to added job security after graduation.”

My parents quickly saw the doors opening up for my future. They quickly filled out all the information necessary to obtain this status and everything else just consisted of waiting. I truly could not believe this was happening. I’ve always wanted to make my parents proud and show them the  joy of success. I finally had a future to look forward to. Everyone used to talk about what their future career would look like. We took tests and tours just to determine and prepare ourselves. But, I always thought “ Why dream so big if that dream was going to have a limit?” 

I guess God really saw that potential, not only in me but in others to allow this great opportunity. As I walked through that stage and looked back as my family cheered me on, I couldn’t stop thinking. “This is it Karen, you made it to your high school graduation. Now, it’s time to make it to your college graduation.” I couldn’t contain my emotions, and as I waved back, a tear of pure happiness ran down my cheek. 

The next few years were tough, but thinking about everything I went through I seriously considered my career of choice. I aspire to become a lawyer, and I am determined to help all immigrants. I want to make a difference and help others become open minded to all these open doors. 

But, do you want to know what the saddest thing about all of this is?  

I may have to go through it all over again. In recent news, the Trump administration has determined to completely eliminate DACA by January 2020. As his lawyer once stated in 2017, “the program was legally and constitutionally defective.” Meaning that there’s a 50/50 chance that those 640,000 young adults that once had a dream will lose it all and start from the very bottom again. I am one of them. 

Now, you may wonder why I chose to talk about this, but I believe in equal opportunities for education. I believe that there should not be a limit on your hopes and dreams. I believe that many immigrants came to this country to accomplish that goal but are completely denied because of their status. I believe in effort and success. I also know that this country was built WITH effort and has had success. So, why take that away? 

I was taught that education was the ONLY thing that you could inherit from your parents. So, I want to make that count. This is how it feels to place your dreams in a box of limitations, where you don’t get to decide your next step, the government does. Where you don’t know what may happen tomorrow, if you’ll be able to return to work or return to class. 

I aspire to keep my head high, my heart pure, and my roots proud. I am DACA, and I am a Dreamer.

About Karen Rosen-Guevara

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