Thursday, March 16, 2017

My immigration story

My mother, father, siblings, and I had been living in a poor part of town in Guadalajara, Mexico. My father worked as a ranchero and my mother used to waitress at a local pub and restaurant. I was the oldest of all my siblings and therefore, the leader. I had to set an example for the younger ones and had to take care of them from the dangers of the world. One day, I was at home when I found out my father had been killed. It was a tragic day and my mother, devastated from the loss, wanted to move to America, speaking of being safer there and how America could help us all. We moved the following week, wanting to leave Guadalajara and the crime of the small town. We were missed and there was no one else to care after the ranch since my father died, so they closed it down, but it was necessary. We no longer wanted to live in such a dangerous place, so when we moved to America, we found out we had taken up all of the small apartment complex. After we moved in, there was no more room, so I guess we were lucky. My siblings and I went to school and had good grades, my mother working as a waitress, yet again. I grew up to be a police officer, wanting to be able to prevent crimes in my city, New York, like to what happened to my father. I thank American for the opportunities that it has given me and will be forever grateful.
New York City

I was born in Iran, and at the age of 10, my family and I absconded from the multi-systemic injustices and immigrated to the US in hopes of extended opportunities and freedom. I was about 3-years-old when the Iran-Iraq war started. My experiences as an immigrant child growing up in the US helped me gain an appreciation for the gift of life. This is because my immigrant story is tied to so much loss and despair….pain and anguish that has yet to heal 30 years later. Through the years so many of my family members passed away (both grandmothers, uncles, aunts, cousins), and I never got to see them again. I grew up here wishing that just for one holiday in my life I could have family around and feel the love that everyone else seemingly felt. Turning our backs on immigrant and refugee populations would mean we are no longer willing to nurture others like myself who have a chance to grow and contribute to what makes America already so great. I ask you to please continue to fight tyranny and injustice by keeping the conversation going. We cannot allow this president and his administration to change the core American values that have been admired by the world through so many decades of exemplary practices of inclusivity.
Chicago IL

In 1965 we came to the U.S. not by plane, but by freighter ship, crossing the Pacific Ocean and Panama Canal. I was four years old then. We came because my parents sought a better life for my brother and me, so they gave up the comfortable one they had. My parents always said it was because of President Johnson. Growing up, I was fortunate to make many wonderful friends of diverse ethnicities, religions, and backgrounds. I was fortunate to have received an education that opened many doors for me. After graduation from college and medical school, I was privileged to take care of cancer patients. I was privileged to work alongside many dedicated colleagues at the FDA and National Cancer Institute as a commissioned officer in the US Public Health Service. I was privileged and fortunate to contribute to the discovery and development of several new cancer drugs that are available for patients today. As a parent, I am blessed to have one son serving our country as an officer in the 82nd Airborne Division and another son pushing the boundaries of medicine and science beyond that taught to me a generation ago. I am an immigrant and a proud American. Like many immigrants, I am grateful for what America has to offer and strive to make America a better country. I was fortunate not to be a refugee. But given today's circumstances, if I were a refugee, would you see me differently?

My brother was born in Peru. He came to the country when he was 10. We had a hard life and he tried to make end meet for us. He got incarcerated when he was 18. He is now 24 and about to get out and is facing deportation. He has a green card and me and my mom are citizens. I want him to stay in the country. Came from Peru as a child and his whole life is here. It was a dumb mistake what he did. But he learned. He has been convicted of 3 felonies and he has served 6 years in total. What should he do? Fight to stay or just leave?
Tampa, Florida

My grandparents were refugees at the time of partition in India from, what is now, Pakistan to present India. They worked long and hard days doing blue-collar jobs so that my parents would have a better chance at life. My parents chose to honor their sacrifices by seeking a better life in the United States. We came to this country because my mother had a fellowship. We landed with just over $800 in NYC. My father's MBA was not accredited in the United States so eventually he went back to school to repeat his degree. They recognized that the caste system in the US is based on where you go to school so they sent my sister and I to the best high schools and then the best colleges. I am now in law school working to make sure our systems provide everyone with a fair shot at success and my sister is teaching English helping the next generation learn empathy. We honor the sacrifices of our family by trying to make the world a better place. We believe that the promise of America can be a reality for all of us. We are Americans.
New York, NY

My father was a bracero. He suffered a lot. He was far from his family in Mexico but convinced a good religious man to build a home for his family and brought his family home to the United States. Years later, my mother cleaned others people's homes and ironed other people's clothes: neighbors' homes and clothes, in a middle class neighborhood in a home my father purchased. I stand proud every day because of them. I am proud to be an immigrant.
Los Angeles

After my family got a visa in Yemen, I was so glad that I would be going to the USA. All my family were happy for us but most of them were crying at the time we left. We left Yemen during the beginning of the revolution to change the president. Since then people are suffering from lack of food resources. Each year it gets worse. My father told us that we would not stay for a long time in NYC but since the war started in Yemen it's not safe anymore. We couldn't go back so we decided to stay. So for two years we have been hoping that Yemen will get better and it will be safe so we can go back and see my family after five years of being expatriates.

My dad was born in 1968 in Saigon, Vietnam during the Vietnam War. At that time grandpa was a soldier fighting for the South in the Vietnam War. My dad was 7 at the time when my grandfather was taken to a camp that was owned by the communists and was kept as a prisoner of war. He returned 10 years after when my dad was 17 years old and my dad's family opened up a salon. In 1993, when my dad was 24 years old, my dad and his whole family received airplane tickets to America to escape the communist takeover in Vietnam. My dad and his family chose to settle in California because he heard the weather was nice and there was a lot of job opportunities in San Jose. When my dad first arrived in America. They lived in an apartment in Blossom Hill. His first job was in electronic assembling. He says getting the job was easy since he had a friend who helped him. He wanted to learn the English language because he says living in America without knowing most of the words was difficult so he went to West Valley College for two years to learn English. Everyone has their own immigrant story.

I'm lucky. I'm 16, live in a small town and I am a daughter of an immigrant. Growing in a small town, when 96 percent of the population is white is tough. You turn white. Sure, the color of my skin will never be the color of a piece of printer paper but inside it feels like I'm all white. I guess the word "anchor baby" defines me…. sort of. I'm the president of debate club, where we talk about bills, current news topics, and political nominees. The hardest topic… Is immigration reform. People are so uninformed.. "Yes I believe we should deport all undocumented immigrants here, and they should get in line with all the other people to get their papers… LEGALLY" I find that easier said than done. I haven't seen my father since I was 8 and only spoken to him on the telephone. He was deported in 2009. The last day I saw him was in a train station… And I had no idea why I was saying good bye… and why everyone was crying. When my friends came over and asked where my father was I said he was "working". Every year on my birthday he calls me and I try hard not to cry because I know it's another year of him not being able to see me grow. My mother is a single mom. Terrified of being deported. Just a couple weeks ago she was caught. She was driving to work when a police officer pulled her over because she wasn't wearing her seat belt. For anyone else it's just a ticket. For a single mother that is illegal it's "I have to go to court, I have to show identification… They will find out I am illegal.. I will be deported… I have to call my lawyer… Who will take care of my daughters? " I hate seeing my mother in constant fear. I hate hearing family members and friends calling us to be careful because in Hudson ICE was seen deporting families. She's scared. I'm scared. We're all scared. Living the American dream shouldn't consist of being scared every second of the day.
Albany, New York

I came to the United States as a child. My dad is a resident alien but could never fix my situation.
Since I have been here I've formed a family of my own. I don't know anything about Mexico because I was raised here and I find myself scared to be deported to a place that I do not know.
South Bay, Florida

My parents moved to America when I was a year old and my sister was 2 1/2. I have 2 younger siblings who are born in America. Sometimes I hate how unknowingly privileged they are. They get free doctor and dentist visits while I haven't been to the doctor since I was 8 years old. I did not know about immigration until recently and I cried for days. My father, mother, sister, and I all have our passports. I am now 16 years old and counselors are telling me to start looking for college. My sister is a senior and she recently found out that we cannot apply for FAFSA. I don't know how I'm going to pay for college and I want to be an engineer. I don't even have my workers permit and it sucks to see everyone else getting jobs and licenses when I'm just stuck. I feel so helpless and sometimes I wonder why my parents even decided to come here. There is nothing for us here.
A Dreamless Child

I came to the U.S. When I was 1 year old along with my 2 older brothers and my mom. My dad was working in the U.S. at the time so he never really had the chance to see me when I was born. My parents have had to go through so much just us. I admire them so much. They came to America seeking a future. I never went hungry. We came here with a tourist visa. I am 17 years old now and I want to travel the world but sadly I can't. There are so many risk factors that come with being an immigrant but my parents always managed to cope with them.
New Jersey

I never knew being illegal holds you back from many things you can do here in the states. I've been illegal all my life but found out when I was 15. I came to the United States when I was 5. I lived the life of a normal kid with school and friends and just being a kid. When I got older I couldn't get a normal job or even go to school or even get my first car. It is hard and it keeps getting harder for some reason. I'm 24 and don't really know where to turn to.
Orlando FL

I went to N.Y. in 2004 where I met my child's father. I stayed 90 days, came home then went back and fell pregnant in August 2005. I left of my own accord went back twice in 2006 then again in 2007. When I went to the US last month with my 9yr old whose father is an American citizen I was denied entry on the grounds of an overstay in the past. My child was seeing her father on father's day and meeting her brothers and great grandma. I am absolutely disgusted as to what they put my child through. Border control said get a visa you'll be back in 5 days. I don't know who to speak to what to do. The US consulate won't answer calls. I feel when you find yourself in a situation like this you need to speak to a human being not an automated service. I'm so tired been trying to fix this to no avail. The money for flights was a waste of £1000. I think it's disgusting.

I came to the States for the first time a couple days after I turned 18. I wanted to visit my uncle who lived in Seattle and thought I might get a bit lucky so then I could get a job and live there. I arrived legally on a tourist visa and I applied for an asylum 3 months after that. I really hoped I could get through the process and at the end I would be granted a US citizenship. I had a working permit which I had to renew annually and I never missed paying taxes. I saved up some money and I took classes from a top music college in Boston, MA but I couldn't graduate due to my financial situation. FAFSA couldn't approve my application at that time so I needed to reach into my own pocket to pay my tuition. I worked at a local restaurant 60-70 hours a week and I started my music career in 2012. I was a part of a band based in Seattle that was quite popular at that time and we got to play for famous comedians, big casinos and many others. They paid me really well and the manager of the band is just a great model of how America should be like. He would let me play as much as the others do without any exceptions. I paid my taxes as a sub-contractor of the band and I didn't mind. I wanted thank America for giving me chances! I would also like to ask why you would kick me out when my asylum case had been denied. Now I'm living in Asia not knowing what else to do other that teaching ESL because I actually speak English. I hope to see you again soon, America. I really miss you and all my relatives that are still there. Someday we'll see each other again.
No name given

I have been apart from my wife and kids for 4 years now. I got a letter from NVC long time ago says that my visa was approved but they asked for someone to sponsor me. Sometime I ask myself is the US of America is still on planet earth. If I start walking it's not going to take all this time to see my wife and my son for the first time. Maybe it is because my name is Mohamed & I am Muslim. If that the problem I am ready to change my name & religion if that will help me to see my family. I always imagine that moment of us together and that moment of me seeing my son for the first time. I really feel powerless that I just can't do anything about this and I really hate myself about how powerless I am.
Kasserine, Tunisia-North Africa

I am 16 years old. My mother and I are both from Guatemala. My mother was forced to have sexual intercourse when she was 14. She got kicked out and struggled trying to find a place to sleep. My father heard about it and didn't care. His sister gave her a place to sleep but the problem was that the place was really little and filled with bugs. She had to sleep with those bugs everyday .She was 15 with a new born. My father at the time was having dreams about me. He wanted my mom and I to come to the United States .I don't know why he didn't go to a lawyer and try to work things out. He is a citizen, and yet he decided to bring us illegally. I was five years old at the time .I remember the day. My mother just told me to be quiet if I wanted to see my father. I remember holding my breath for some time waiting for the car to cross. It was the most sad and yet happy day of my life. I think my mom just wanted a better future for me. She wasn't making much and she knew my dad would help out. I don't really remember the day i saw my dad for the first time, but the years with him were amazing. Everything changed when he left back to Guatemala and wanted us to go back. My mom saw how I was doing in school and how we didn't suffer like we did back home. She didn't want to go back and she didn't. She later on went to Chicago. Her sister let her stay with her, and it was awful. My aunt was really selfish and mean. My mom didn't like that at all. We later on moved to California and she met a guy. It was the worst five years of my life. The guy didn't treat her the way my dad did. She was scared and worried for her life, and so was i. I don't want to go more into that. We recently moved out. I think now that she is on her own, she is working hard and being the best mom. After all this my main focus is just doing well in school and going to college. It is my main goal to finish college and look and my mom and thank her for staying and making my dreams come true of being someone in life.
San Bernardino California

I came to this country in May, 2001 on H-1B visa and my family members (wife and my 2 daughters) joined me 2 months later. My elder daughter, was almost 10 years and 5 months old at the time of her arrival to USA. The labor Department approved my Application for Employment in 2005. I filed my papers for I140 in 2006, and the approval was given in 2008. I could not file for my Permanent Resident Status (I-485 form) as the priority date for India at that time was June 2001. Unfortunately, we received the letter on October 17th, 2015 regarding denial of the Green Card for my elder daughter because her age was over 21 years. Considering the above situation, the USCIS gives us no choice but to send my elder daughter back to India. She grew up in America and asking one daughter to be separated from her whole family just because she is older than 21 is disheartening. Our family has always believed in going by the law and have put all our efforts forward in the last 15 years to stay legal in this country. Currently, illegal immigrant children who were educated in America from a young age have rights to work and receive financial aid. Why is it that a family who has worked hard to stay legal and always follow the law is being punished for doing things the right way?

You know sometimes it can get hard not having papers. I was brought to the U.S. at the age 3 because my mom saw a better future for me there. We lived in my uncle's house with his family which are legal. My mom worked really hard for me to have everything I needed. However she fell in love with my step-dad and so we moved together as a family with his daughter and two sons. At first he treated me well but then became so fake to me. I thought that I would actually have someone to care for me and call him my dad. I'm 13 and this immigration stuff gets to me every day. I just want to go back home with my real family. (I'm an only child if you were wondering)

My father is 52 years old now. He entered The US at the age of 16 with a 3rd grade education. He has always been a hard worker and had been trying to obtain residency since I could remember. He was deported 4 years ago. My younger brothers were 2 and 16 at the time and I was 20. My brother got a job to help pay bills along with me and my older sister. My 2 year old brother is going to be 7 now and barely even knows who our dad is. I have helped raise him and took both of my brothers under my wing. I graduated from a technical college the year he was deported and now I am back in college and plan to obtain a degree in teaching. My father didn't raise criminals, he set examples of what hard work can accomplish. We never received government help and he always paid his taxes. So my question is why not look further into his history here rather than just assume anybody here "illegally," is in fact not worthy of living and thriving in this unjust but beautiful country.
Dallas, TX

I came in the US 1988 at 12 and now today at 37. I'm still dealing with being an immigrant after being married with 4 kids. I have had lawyers take my money and scam me over and over. My recent lawyer was indicted for scam. I lost my job 5 weeks ago because my lawyer was arrested and he kept all my documents to return to work. I have done all I can the legal way to obtain a green card but I feel like the system has failed me. I have lived in a prison for 25 years and I have committed no crime. My daughter will be 17 soon and when I started this journey I was pregnant with her.
No location given

I came here in 2009 by myself from Iraq. I was 20 years old then. Now I'm 25 years old and pretty soon will become a citizen. I don't have family support or any kind of support. It was tough at times but quiet seas don't make good sailors. Life is going pretty well. I have a lot of experience in sales and customer service. I can work in any field I wish. I'm working full time and going to school part time. I made a really good plan for my future. I believe that my future is set.
No location given

My father was heading to work when the immigration was waiting for him. They had a warrant for him. They took him even though he has been living here for 40+ years. Now he can't see his newborn grandson, nor me or my brother including my little sister. My parents are divorced and who is she supposed to give her advice, give her that comfort that my father did? He paid all of his taxes, did everything by the book. I just can't believe this is what we call justice in America. This isn't the land of the free anymore. My father is my role model he raised me and my older brother by himself. I just can't believe how they can do this to an innocent man. He's been in the immigration holding facilities for a year now!
Pasadena, Texas

I went school in Canada and moved to Texas in 2010. At that time I was thinking it will be hard to settle in because of my race. However this was not the case. Within 3 months I got my first job and from there on I am just progressing. My family moved here in 2012. I would just like to thank the US for giving me an opportunity to pursue my dreams. Of course all countries have pros and cons but I still believe US is the land of opportunities. It has all the tools and resources you need to succeed. You don't need to be rich to enjoy all the privileges this country has to offer. You can still live a beautiful life. People are so helpful here. You get the respect you deserve. I was not born here but I wish I did.
Thank you US for everything.

I was brought to the U.S illegally when I was 3 years of age. My father came to this country first before he brought my mother and I. My father and mother still continue to work hard every day to give me and my two younger brothers the absolute best. I thank my father every day for bringing us to this blessed and beautiful country and giving us a better quality of life. Throughout my life I never thought it would be such a big deal being illegal until I got to high school and staring applying for my licenses or college scholarships. Obviously I was denied for not having a social security number. Later on Mr. President Obama gave us an opportunity named deferred action and it has opened to many doors for me! I'm truly blessed. I was able to obtain my driver licenses and continue school. Honestly my life has completely changed.
North Carolina

I am from Somalia, endless battles forced me out of Somalia in March 11, 2011. I arrived Kenya and registered with the UNHCR as a refugee, many times i applied for a resettlement to a third country, due to the high number of Somali refugee the UNHCR was dealing with, i gave up and felt hopeless. One day in 2012 i applied for the diversity green card visa lottery, i was accepted, by 2014 i recieved my visa. I am now living and working in Portland, Maine. I am saving some money to go to college in the fall of this year, 2015.

Portland, Maine

I was only a few months old when I was brought in the U.S with my mother my father and my big brother. I was born in Mexico DF on January 31. My mom thought it would be better to build a better life in the other side so we could have a better future. I am 20 years old now I've been waiting to get my papers for too long. I finished high school and got my diploma to be able to go to college. But I won't be able without my papers. Every day I cry because I can't help my mom with rent anymore. I don't work anymore. I want my mom to be proud of me but how can I if I'm not from here and they won't accept us. My mom was once deported when I was 10 years old. I found out the next day because she had not come home. I got a phone call from Mexico and she told me she wasn't going to come back until 3 to 4 month. Never in my entire life have I felt so mad, so mad because I was left without a mother for 3 month. After that I've been scared of cops because I don't remember anything from Mexico because I've been living in Houston for my entire life. I want to be able to enjoy my life and learn new stuff and travel, something I can't do.
Houston, TX

I met my husband a Mexican national in 2007 after having our daughter. We wanted to "fix" his status as he was illegal. He left the states in 2011 and was given a 10 year bar from reentering the US with no waiver. Living a nightmare of trying to keep our marriage together our kids happy and the inflow of money to the family. We will not be allowed to live "normal" until 2021. Immigration has robbed me of my children's daily growth and amazing first memories as I travel between Mexico and San Diego weekly. I simply want to see and hold my children daily and have the daily support of my amazing husband. Immigration is such a cold inhumane process… It's tearing families apart when it should be uniting them.
San Diego

My dad was deported when I was 16 years old. I know he is somewhere in the Dominican Republic, if he is still alive. I try not to think about it too much because there are so many questions and nobody to answer them. I'm now 22 years old and sometimes, I wonder where he is and what he is doing. I know that he would be proud of me getting my bachelor's degree and becoming a teacher and coach. Even though I don't have a good relationship with my mother and only lived with my father for a few years, I thank them wholeheartedly for their sacrifices. They had no idea where I would be at 22, but it was thanks to them that I was born and raised in a place with unlimited opportunities.
Lawrence, MA

For as long as I can remember, I knew that my parents were undocumented. Growing up in New York City, so many of the people around me were undocumented I didn't really know what it meant. But, as I got older, I started to figure it out. My parents would tell my siblings that we wouldn't be able to fly to see our cousins in Florida or even take a bus to another state because they didn't have a state-issued ID. I have always feared my parents getting stopped by the authorities and then getting deported. When I left for Scripps College in August all the way in California (I was born and raised in NYC), my parents couldn't even accompany me into the airport. My mom was terrified of going into the terminal for fear that someone would ask her for documentation. I went alone. In November, when I heard President Obama issue an executive order that would help about 5 million undocumented people living in the United States come out of the shadows, I felt elated.

I came into this Country when I was 2 years of age, I am now 19 about to turn 20. Like everybody, my parents came into this country to seek for a better life and to provide me with a better quality of education and to make sure I had everything I could possibly need. The three of us came into this country illegally, they came here without knowing anybody or without speaking or understanding the English language. Since day one they've worked very hard every day to build our empire that we have now. I'm beyond blessed and grateful because every day we are living the American dream. All through out these years it has definitely not been easy but definitely worth it. I now have my SS thanks to DACA but I'm still hoping to have the opportunity to go back to my homeland and have the blessing to see my grandparents at least one more time. Even though I will never get 15-16 years back I pray every day to god to give me the chance to be able to see them someday because even though I have everything now I have an empty place in my heart of not being able to hug them or telling them how much they mean to me.
Like many others I came to the U.S at a young age, 6. My parents took me and my two sisters 9 and 1 at the time from Brazil. 15 years later we all got our green cards. In 2014, I was 22 years of age and met a beautiful girl. She was also an immigrant from Brazil. She and her family were here on a tourist visa and switched to the application of a religious visa. Her dad is a pastor. During the 8 months we dated, things were moving great until they were denied the religious visa and had to go back to Brazil. I proposed to her the day before she left in belief, I with a green card can legalize her. We were going to get married in 2016, but in March 2015 our lives changed. She still had a valid tourist visa, she was coming to celebrate our 1 year anniversary of the day we started dating. Coming from Brazil to the U.S. she was stopped at the airport for questioning. The officers asked her about her stay in the U.S, she admitted to having worked in the U.S. for a couple of months on a part-time job. She did not have employment authorization to have gotten the job. She was sent back that day to Brazil. I didn't get to see her and remember that as one of the worst days of my life. Now she can't visit me as her visa is cancelled. I went and got married July 2015. With the stain on her name, we were advised to wait for my citizenship before trying to legalize her. It will take 2 years for me to be eligible to be a citizen. I hope they will forgive her and let her live with me. I will continue to work and visit her periodically during these two years to build a future for us here in the U.S. It won't be easy but we are faithful things will work out and we can be together in the U.S. again.

My parents came here from Europe when I was just 3 years old. They haven't been back since and haven't seen their families in almost 20 years. It's been a very tough life for them and I almost wish they never came here. They have jobs they hate, no social life, and I have watched them grow to hate each other because of all these factors. I wish desperately there was some way to get them back home and to make them happy but there's not much I can do. Their mental energy is almost completely gone. I love them to death but can't handle seeing them so sad.

I'm 22 years old and currently study Electrical Engineering. I was 8 years old when my parents decided to go to the Unites States. We lived there for almost ten years. Which means I lived my entire childhood there. Now we're living in Chile. I really feel like I don't belong here. It has been really depressing for me and my family. I have two younger brothers who were born in the US. I didn't get the chance to get my citizenship but I really miss the US and am struggling to leran Spanish and missing the life i had in New York. All my friends are over there and I feel more American than Chilean and hope one day I can go back to where I think I belong.
Valparais, Chile

I am an American by heart, soul and hard work. I love my country but they apparently do not love. I moved to the US in 1984 with my girlfriend at that time. She had a GREEN CARD and was legal. I was a Canadian citizen. We married in the US and she started to work. In those times, I could work illegally easily until we had arranged for my legal status. My wife came home one day and said that she had my SSN that she had been working on for some time. I had no idea how the process worked (sticking my head in the ground a little of course) and utilized that SSN for the next 24 years while I worked, built a company, employed people, did year of volunteer work, paid all of my personal and corporate taxes fully (which for many years where substantial as I made a very good living). As a test to the reality of the SSN, I received 2 NASD licenses which required finger prints, FBI back ground, etc. to make sure I am who I say I am. I had no illegal activities and had renewed my driver's license a number of times without a problem. I was even audited twice. Then, when getting divorced I find out that it is NOT a good number. The person that really does have that SSN is alive and will receive the very handsome benefit of the taxes that I paid all those years. Now Canada, the country I was born in, says I do not have a very long history of work and very little contribution to my CPP so I will receive almost nothing in retirement. Having spent all my funds in my earlier years on my nieces and nephews to get them through school and university, I am up the creek without a paddle.

Both my parents came to the U.S illegally. After working in the U.S for over 20 years and paying taxes (even though they can never benefit from social security) they still cannot catch a break. My parents grew up poor in Mexico and both had to drop out of school to work to support their families. So before you judge, know that in Mexico it is a vicious cycle of not having an education because you don't have money and not having money because you don't have an education.
Portland, Oregon

My name is Vanessa and am an American citizen. I have a twin Samantha and we both are 16 years old and living with our grandparents. My mom and my other 2 sisters (also American citizens) live in Mexico with my Dad because he is deported and cannot come back. In 2005 they deported him and punished him for 10 years. On July 2015 he went to the Juarez Consulate and they denied his case. Since I was 6 years old I have been going to Mexico and coming to the US. I am a junior at Avenal High School. I get straight A's at school and life is hard without my family. My only dream since I was 6 is to have my Daddy here with me. Is it really much to ask for?
Avenal, CA

I immigrated to the Bronx, NY, in December 1984 when I was only fourteen years old after waiting 11 long years for my father to send for us. The wait was long but it was worth it. I come from a family of five children, I'm #4. I could not imagine life anywhere else. My home country (Dominican Republic) although beautiful, is corrupt and lacks education and job opportunities. I can honestly say that I have lived the American Drea. I took every opportunity available to me and have been able to experience a great education, have lived well and have benefited from all the work of all of those who came before me, including my father with his 2nd grade education, a hard worker who taught me the values of hard work and education. I am proud to be an American and to enjoy the freedom and wealth this country has to offer. God bless America.
Martha D.
West Palm Beach, FL

My mom brought me here along with my older sister. My mom was raped and forced to be with the guy that raped her. She did not get any counseling, left for the U.S and brought that same mindset. I have more siblings now. My oldest sister suffered from my mom's mindset of being abused. Our step dad forced himself on her. He left with three daughters and a son that were his. My mom has brought home a new dad. I think she doesn't realize how much it affects us.

My father arrived illegally in New York about 18 years ago with his younger brother. My father worked hard upon arrival. He took jobs in New Jersey and New York City delivering packages. He then met my mother-disabled and born with only one arm-and fell in love. They had me and my sister only a year apart and started a family. Deportation was feared among my parents especially after so many tries with countless lawyers. How could my father leave his wife with one arm and two underage daughters alone?
New York

I was born in Guadalajara Mexico. My parents came to the USA when I was 8 years old. I'm now 36 years old and unemployed. Being undocumented has made life so difficult. I became pregnant with twins at age 16 my kids are now 19 and my youngest 13. I have been living in constant fear of deportation and not been able to obtain stability and provide for my younger daughter. I feel like everyone around me is moving up in life and I'm stuck. I literally cry every day because of my immigration status, all my family is here legally except me. I want to do so much with my life but it seems impossible. I stay optimistic but it doesn't change the fact that I'm undocumented. Life is just so unfair.
San Diego CA

I'm about to be 16. My dad has been trying to get his papers since I was born. They've gone to lawyers in New Orleans but all they do is say wait and to pay money when they don't do anything for us. At one point my dad was able to get his license but they never let him renew it. He's been working hard since I was born. We have a new house that we built. We can't buy a four wheeler or a truck since he doesn't have a license. He has DUI's from like 02-03 and that's it. I just want to get his papers for him so that I don't lose him. He deserves his papers being a hard worker and has done nothing wrong in his life.

South Koreans call United States Mee-Gook, which means "beautiful nation". America, the beautiful land of opportunity, is how I always envisioned my journey. I applied for jobs thinking I have 12 months to find a sponsorship. After several interviews, I realized that getting a job with H-1B sponsorship looming over my head is extremely difficult. Here is why: I'm a recent graduate from undergraduate with math degree, this severely limits my job options because USCIS determines what jobs math majors are allowed to work for H-1B visa through an occupational outlook handbook.
Richmond, Virginia

My parents had left me at the age of 2 back in Mexico with my grandparents while they came to the U.S. They sent for me at the age of 4 and that is when I crossed the border with my aunt. It was hard at first but I got used to being here. I am now 18 years old and thankful that I was able to qualify for the DACA. With DACA I have been able to do so much. Thankfully I now have 2 jobs and I am in school. Although I am undocumented, I do not give up my hopes and dreams of a better life for my family. Although, it is difficult I was able to enroll into college and I am about to be done with my first semester. Hopefully I can continue my studies later on. As much as I would like to go visit my family in Mexico, I can't. That upsets me every day but I keep going strong for them. This isn't a sad story, this is just to let everyone know there is hope and to fight for what they want! Being undocumented shouldn't stop us, WE CAN DO IT! We just have to believe.
New York

I am 19 years old and lived in the USA for 10 years of my life. I was deported alongside my mother and sister 5 years ago. My life has never been the same. When you realize how much your life is going to change in such a short period of time, you can only miss and mourn about the past, because that's what it is and will be. The past. There's not a day in my life, even though I don't necessarily want to, that I don't say to myself "what if I was still there…". Depression, came to me at a young age. Nostalgia was more than just a word at the age of 13. It is hard coping with a loss of what could've been a lifetime. I am doing my best to overcome reality and move along but all I seem to want is an opportunity to go back. I have no idea how or even if I can but it's a dream I wish came true soon enough.
Juan David
North Bergen, New Jersey

I was deported after being legally in the USA for over fifty years and receiving social security. They took my S.S. away. I am 69 years old and had not visited my country in all that time. My sons are all U.S. Citizens and my mother too. I do not know anyone in my country. It's been a nightmare. I sas hoping the plane would crash. That's how depressed I felt. I think it was an injustice to take my only source of income. I thought this was a just country.
Luis Eugenio
Dominican Republic

I came to the US on the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program. I have been here since July, 23, 2014 and my visa was for 1 month. Right in the middle of the fun I was having around the US with 35 Iraqi students and 10 Americans, my family called me and told me that they have left home and they are refugees. Now my village was taken over by ISIS and they are killing people for their religious beliefs and thousands of the young girls are now taken as sex slaves. So I applied for asylum in US before my visa expired and I did my interview 2 months ago. Now I'm just waiting for the letter to come and if they say yes then I'm safe here. If not then I might have to go back and I could be killed there.
Portland, OR

I came to United States at the age of 14 from Uzbekistan. The decision was my mother's; she felt like we needed a better life after my father died from lymphatic cancer. It was tough at first, but all I cared about is that I'm here now. I knew I had no future in Uzbekistan due to extreme corruption and broken education for which you can pay through. I am 17 now, on my way to college. Although current circumstances aren't as I'd want them to be, I will change that. After all, this is the land of opportunities.
Los Angeles

I was brought here when I was 2 years old. My dad came to New York a few years before but left my mom pregnant. Sadly, he couldn't see me when I was a baby due to him being illegal. He sent for us when I was 2 1/2 years old. I crossed the border with my mom and granddad and my aunt. Back then it was easier than it is now. My mom told me she was lucky that I was a quiet baby so we had no trouble. When we came to new York I lived in my uncle's house (who is a citizen) and I moved to new jersey 3 months later. I'm 15 now and I still get really upset because I want to be legal here. I want to help my parents out and get a good job and buy them their own house, but sadly I can't. I want to study cosmetology or psychology but me being illegal I can't.
New York

I went school in Canada and moved to Texas in 2010. At that time I was thinking it will be hard to settle in because of my race. However this was not the case. Within 3 months I got my first job and from there on I am just progressing. My family moved here in 2012. I would just like to thank the US for giving me an opportunity to pursue my dreams. Of course all countries have pros and cons but I still believe US is the land of opportunities. It has all the tools and resources you need to succeed. You don't need to be rich to enjoy all the privileges this country has to offer. You can still live a beautiful life. People are so helpful here. You get the respect you deserve. I was not born here but I wish I did.
Thank you US for everything.

My father was heading to work when the immigration was waiting for him. They had a warrant for him. They took him even though he has been living here for 40+ years. Now he can't see his newborn grandson, nor me or my brother including my little sister. My parents are divorced and who is she supposed to give her advice, give her that comfort that my father did. He paid all of his taxes and did everything by the books. I just can't believe this is what we call justice in America. This isn't the land of the free anymore. My father is my role model. He raised me and my older brother by himself. I just can't believe how they can do this to an innocent man. He's been in the immigration holding facilities for a year now!
Pasadena, TX

I came here in 2009 and immigrated by myself from Iraq. I was 20 years old then. Now I'm 25 years old and pretty soon will become a citizen. Don't have family support or any kind of support. It was tough at times but quiet seas don't make good sailors. Life is going pretty well. I have a lot of experience in sales and customer service. I can work in any field I wish for. I'm working full time and going to school part time. I made a really good plan for my future. I believe that my future is set.
No location given

I came to the United States when I was only 4 years old. I have 3 siblings, 2 of them are apart of the dream act , they have their ss and worker permit for a limited time. My parents are illegal immigrants, but my father has his drivers license which expires 2017 and we don't know what is gonna happen after that. It was a miracle how he got his license back in 2007. My parents work as janitors because they can't get better jobs because of their status. I'm 18 years old, I recently just graduated high school. I'm very depressed because I see kids going to school, getting jobs, cars etc and I am stuck in my life. I can't work, I can't do a thing without being afraid of being deported. I feel very low. It saddens me everyday I sit at home wishing my life was better.

At the age of three, my mom left me and my twin brother in the care of my grandmother to find a better life. She worked day and night to have us back. Six months later my lovely, hardworking mother sent for us. Our trip to America wasn't nearly as hard as hers though. She had to walk the deadly trail, hoping she could make it is so she can see us again. Once we were all together life got better for a short time. Some years after my mother lost her job because of an on the job accident. My mother was fired and felt lost. Our life is now better, but all I want is to be able to keep my education going and to give back all I was given. It's a dream that may never come true, but my hope is there. May God help me and bless all of you.
No location given

I was born here in USA Northridge, CA in 1980 by immigrant parents. My mother came to the USA at the age of 15 and my father at the age of 16. Both of them should of been in high school but got here and started working. We never received any type of government help. We had to work very hard to survive and pay our rent until now. I heard on the news about what is going on at the border and didn't really care until I heard my cousin and her two young children were held. She and her husband and children are here because their lands were taken away and some bad people are trying to steal the rest of their lands. My cousin was able to get help but told me some really horrible stories about how they are being held in one small room and they are all crowded with moms and babies not being able to sleep and eat only once a day. I had no idea this was happening until today when she and her 2 children were released. The youngest of her children is a 1 1/2 yr old girl. They are here now but she was left with a real bad trauma. She wakes up crying asking for food, something that she never did until this happed. I really feel sad to know that people are not being treated right but worse than animals! We are children of God. What happened to one nation under God?
Northridge, CA

I'm 42 and live in Morocco with my deported husband. His visa had expired and he overstayed. He saved my life as I was divorcing an abusive husband of 20 years. I relocated and we married. He was taking care of me and my son. I was back in college. Until the day they found him. They deported him and left me homeless. I only had enough money to buy a ticket to his country as nobody would help me. We are now stuck here and making it but struggling. I say why would my country deport someone who was working and helped me a citizen make my life better. We are out of ways for me to come home and nobody to help us.

I am a U.S. and Canadian citizen and have lived here in the U.S. for over 9 years now. My boyfriend was brought to the U.S. (without papers) when he was 17. He came with his dad, leaving his mom and siblings behind in Mexico. He has never been back and has now lived in the U.S. for over 14 years. When they arrived at the border town in Mexico, they were kidnapped for ransom. Their kidnappers started to take them out to the desert (which many times means death.) Thankfully, however, he and his dad managed to escape and continue their journey. Despite having had that harrowing experience, my boyfriend explained that he and his dad had a rather easy crossing, not suffering nearly as much as many do. Anyway, we plan to get married soon, but our future is uncertain. In the beginning of this year, he got pulled over for driving with a suspended license. Instead of just being given the standard fine, he was also given a court date. Before I met him, I had a very different perspective over illegal immigration. I was very "by the books" and not very understanding of what immigrants go through. But now I have a lot of respect for all immigrants; they are so determined and work so hard and are willing to suffer everything in order to provide a better life for their families. His story and his perspective have helped me broaden my perspective and have a greater compassion for others.
No city given

My parents and I arrived to the U.S with a visitor's visa. My grandfather was facing some serious times and my mother was 19 years old and not seeing her dad for 18 years decided to visit him. My dad was 22 and I was 1 year old! My mother tells me their intention was never to stay, but they did. It has been 19 years and I was excited when they passed the act where students could get a legal temporary stay ,DACA (deferred action for children arrivals). After all this time of feeling in the shadows and not really living "free" I went to see lawyers who could help me apply, but I couldn't because I visited my grandmother in Mexico for 7 months. Since I couldn't apply for the DACA my parents got me into an arranged marriage. At first i agreed but once I thought about it I changed my mind but it didn't matter. They took me into the office and I got married. I was manipulated in several was into doing so. What hurts the most is that not even seeing me crying did they not go through with it. But I didn't apply for my papers through my husband. I got the courage to stand my ground and not care about the consequences and even though people tell me " you're already married just do it" I say no. It is not right! I'm filling for divorce! And if there is no solution to my situation. I'm going back to Mexico. Starting fresh and trusting god! I'm 20 years old now, I'm waiting until my 26 birthday to make my final choice. Some people forget that the constitution of the United States starts with "We the people …" not "We the American Citizens"

I came here when I was 3 years old. I'm currently 16. Everyone else in my family that is here with me is legal. Everyone but me. I'm close to finishing high school… too close. I love America, this is my home, but this is no way to live. I didn't choose to be here, they did… and now I'll have to deal with the consequences.I just want to go to college, study medicine and save lives. Is that too much to ask for? I just want to belong here, I want to be an American citizen.
Lost Dreamer
Somewhere within America

I came to America from United Kingdom London in 2005 for a holiday. I was 18 years old at the time I got a 3 months visa waiver, I had no plans staying over my visa but faith had its own plans. I meet guy and we married in 2007. We continued living together till we went to a lawyer and advised me to go back to England as that's the only way for my hubby to apply a petition for me. Meanwhile we took his advice I came back to UK so when he tried to process for me the petition we found out that I have ban for 10 years as I overstayed my visa more than 1 year.

My story starts in Haiti 1978. My mom was only 15 and pregnant. My dad 22. My dad left me and my mom and came to America for a better life. When I was about 7months old my mom decided to let my aunt take me to America under a different name. When I came to America I was passed around with no status or papers. My father later became a U.S. Citizen and never applied for me. I am now 35yrs old and I don't know any other country but here! And I don't have enough money to fix my situation either I feel lost.

I was brought here when I was 10 years old. I am now 28yrs old. I went to elementary, middle and high school. I have three daughters with my fiance. He is a U.S citizen born in California. He wants to apply for my residency here, but we are scared that because I was brought here illegally they could send me back to El Salvador. I have been working as a Medical Assistant for 8 yrs and started taking courses at a local college to get my nursing degree. We want to get marry but we don't know if USCIS will sent me back.
Wheaton, MD

I came to the U.S. when I was 7 years old. My stepfather was an american soldier who married my German mother in Germany and also adopted me before we entered the U.S. My mother passed away in 1968 and told me I was a citizen. Being a young girl and not knowing what credentials that were needed to get government benefits for Medicare and monthly Social Security payouts for later after all my husband and I have paid into the system since age 16. We have been married for 48 years. My husband is an American citizen, born in Tx.
Presently Homeland is supposed to look up my history in the U.S and finding info on permanent resident and citizenship through my mother. I was 18 when she received her citizenship. It has been 2 years that Homeland has had my info filled out by Catholic family services. I also applied for my permanent resident card. I really don't care at this point which one they send but it has been one year for the green card and everything is at a standstill for both applications. What does a person do with this Obama care? I am over 65 and cannot get Medicare through Obama and private insurance is very expensive!
Marianne White
Amarillo Tx

I'm married a wonderful citizen American for 8 years, live together for 10 years, but we are living out of states since 2004 due to visa denied. The reason is " sham divorce for immigration" from consulate officer…for 10 years my husband never go back to USA and I'm so scared to go to US consulate to interview for visa (for any kind of visa). I just feel so sorry for my husband. He could not see his parents for longtime… because we love each other so much no matter what we stay…but still…feel so sad and don't know what to do next.
Ho Chi Minh City

Source: my immigration story


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