My name is Maria Martinez; I am not an undocumented immigrant but people have treated me like one.
I have personally witnessed the suffering my parents and sisters have gone through for so many years. When I was three years old my parents took me back to Mexico where my two other sisters were born. One was born in 1990 and the other in 2000. I grew up in Mexico and went to school there. By the time I was eleven years old, my parents decided to send me, as well as my other sister who was also born in the United States, back here so that we would not lose our papers. My parents used to say that these papers were very valuable and that it would bring us a lot of opportunities to be able to reach that famous American Dream. A better future and education was waiting for us, so we came. Consequently, going back to the United States forced us to leave behind our precious family, culture and language.
The United States, where my parents said would be the best place for us, suddenly became the country that taught me oppression, depression, ignorance, isolation, humiliation and most of all the word, “illegal.” After my regreso, my mom decided to cross the border for the second time bringing with her my oldest sister, and leaving behind my youngest sister. By this time I I had already experienced so much suffering, having an undocumented family is difficult as well and I sometimes wanted to give my papers to them.
Being of privilege, and having these papers, has put me in a difficult situation. I have seen my undocumented sisters suffer while I get to be in school and have the opportunity to go to college. My sister dropped out of school because my family relies financially on her since my father was deported. My mother now works twice as much as before, but she still has the hope of someday being reunited. I have this hope as well and that’s what’s keeping me from not giving up.
Living a life where I have to see my family force themselves in being something more than just undocumented is heartbreaking. These papers have put pressure on me to be the only daughter to succeed and make it to college. Like many of the stories posted here, I would be the first in my family and feel like it’s up to me to break through. However, being a Mexican immigrant has made me feel like I may not be able to fulfill my family’s expectations. I am not only going to college for myself, but for many undocumented immigrants who have struggled for a better life. Everyone deserves the chance to live a successful and happy life.
I know that by going to college I will have the opportunity to advocate for those who have suffered and are oppressed because of their immigration status and whose families have been divided like mine. We cannot continue dreaming, we should also be allowed to make our dreams come true like everyone else! We cannot just dream for change but execute it for our own selves.