Call me Erika. I was reading about the New York DREAM Act and hearing about it puts a smile on my face. Knowing that more and more states are realizing the potential that illegal immigrant students have amazes me.
I live in New Jersey and came to the United States when I was 1.5 months old. My mom had many chances of becoming legal and having me become legal as well, but her pride got the best of her. Till this day I’m still stuck in the shadows.
I recently turned 18, now I want to start doing things on my own. I find it horrible that people would be against illegal young children and adolescents, it makes no sense they were practically raised here! Take me as an example, my first medical records EVER and all my shots are from HERE!
I want to continue school and work with animals; that’s my passion. I would like to know if there is ANYTHING I can do to help or get myself involved in this and I’m thinking about moving to New York because in Middlesex County College they treat illegal immigrants like trash which is why I haven’t even applied to school here and my dad wants me to. I refuse. I know there are schools out there willing to help me, so why should I go to a school that will make my life hell?
Please let me know if there is ANYTHING I could do would you please let me know? What colleges would you recommend for me?
From a faithful supporter.
Erika, thank you so much for your E-mail and for wanting to get involved in the movement. It’s great knowing that youth from all over want to step up to the plate and fight for immigrant rights. It makes me happy to know that the work we do is not all in vain.
Many times we have the power and potential to organize within our communities but don’t notice it. There are many things you can do! You mentioned that your community is not welcoming towards undocumented youth; there is a project waiting to happen right there. If you do decide to stay in New Jersey there are many ways to organize and the work is never over. I know New Jersey needs your help to get in-state tuition laws passed with the ultimate goal of getting a bill passed that is similar to the Dream Act but at a local level. You can also raise awareness by dropping the I word and getting others to do it as well, no human being is “Illegal”.
Consider joining an organization in New Jersey that is accepting of undocumented students and reach out to different schools to spread the word to other youth. Create a club, educate others about undocumented youth using presentations, workshops and more. Many times those who are against us don’t really know the whole face of this issue; it’s good to shed some light on it. You can do this by hosting a movie screening or by simply coming out at an event, meeting, and/or in class, that alone creates awareness. Remember that the organizations that have been formed already weren’t there before and it all started with a person or group of people who wanted to do something about an issue that was affecting them. We all started somewhere.
Erika, If you do decide to come live in New York there are a couple of schools that offer animal related career courses from Vets to Vet Techs and more. Schools like: Mercy College, Cornell University, New York University, CUNY LaGuardia Community College, SUNY Canton, CUNY Bronx Community College and many more all you have to do is look into them. Some may be private colleges, some of state colleges (SUNY) and some are city colleges (CUNY). The fees may vary because you would be an out of state or international student depending on where you apply. Don’t hesitate in applying to private colleges because some don’t mind funding undocumented students all we need to do is ask. Also, if you get turned down, I know it may seem a little hard and sad but don’t feel discouraged because there is help and there is a way to go to school.
If you do come to New York you might as well join the NYSYLC [:!
Email or fill out this form with any questions, concerns, comments or just your own story. This is a space to let it all out! You don’t have bottled it up inside. Whatever you write is up to you and you will not be judged. Your stories and worries matter! You are not alone. Remember, the insecurities and fears you have, someone else is them having too! Don’t be afraid to speak out!
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The views expressed by the author on this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the New York State Youth Leadership Council (NYSYLC)