New York State Youth Leadership Council

I’m Orin And This Is My Restricted Life


Mar 12


My name is Orin and I’m originally from, Guyana. I came to the United States about ten years ago, with my mother. We came so that I would be able to pursue my educational aspirations, since attending university in my own country is very expensive, especially with the high cost of living.

I was 14 at the time and I didn’t realize the full scope of what “undocumented” meant until my junior and senior years in High School, when I started to grasp just how restricted life was going to be. I had the 3rd highest GPA in my graduating class in Brooklyn, and went on to attend CUNY City College. I obtained my bachelors in 2 years ago. I’m waiting to finish my studies and be able to find employment, which is difficult because as an undocumented immigrant, I cannot work legally.

I will always remember standing in the crowded Bursars office in City College and being told, “why don’t you have a social security?” I’ll never forget how it felt, all the eyes in the room focused on me, burning on my back. I quickly and easily learned to have a sense of indifference, raise my head, and do everything contrary to instinct. Never fall apart, instead react as if the most common question was being asked, respond as required and then exit. I learned to master such a technique, being ID-ed in an office, or when an administrator flips through files, and demands to see the page where the green card is.

Every DREAMer knows how to swallow their pride. We know how to take a deep breath, ignore the situation, and the tons of eyes. You quickly learn how to to pass internships, opportunities and employment to find a sense of self that is not based on those around us. That’s the hardest. You have to live with a hundred different perspectives; from school, “friends”, or even family that sum up your life in how little you have accomplished. As sad as it may seem, your worth is many times measured this way.

After all, any young man that does not have a job, drive a car or have his own apartment is pathetic. Right? How much does his obstacle hinder his every dream? Every second of everyday, every DREAMer knows. All this fuels anger. Anger to demand the dignity that belongs to ALL humanity.


  • Yazchica

    Everyday thats courage when you can be making a different for this coutry that does not was the undocumented youth.

  • The Sonia G

    Thank you so much for sharing your story!!!

  • Novie

    I am from Jamaica. Been here since I was 5. I feel your pain. I know exactly how you feel about bring judged and dodging those awkward questions.