The Nine Determining Digits of Identity
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I am tired of the false hope.
I am the drug addict, the rapist, the one who steals jobs from others. I am illegal.
Little does everyone know that I am a senior in high school. I was brought to the country at an age when I thought the only papers I ever needed were ones to draw on and make airplanes out of. I grew up “normal”; digging up dirt in the backyard, playing manhunt, and waking up early to watch Saturday morning cartoons were just a few of my top priorities.
It wasn’t until I entered high school did I realize how limited I was because of my lacking a green card and a social security number. Sophomore year, all the teens were applying for jobs and everyone was excited to be independent. I applied for a camp counseling job. After every two weeks we were supposed to get paid—that is everyone else except me.
The main counselor told me that she couldn’t pay me because I didn’t have official documents to prove I could work in the country legally. In other words, I was being used for free labor.
I quit right after and never thought about entering a work force again. I kept quiet because of the typical ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raids where officers sworn under law to protect humans ultimately disgrace their own nature by separating families. I didn’t want to put my family through any danger.
Senior year hit me like a truck. Education was the one thing in my grasp, something I could control—but this time it was different. I ran to my guidance counselor and told them the situation at home. The whole system is crooked; it was no trouble applying, but the hardest thing was receiving financial aid. Colleges themselves don’t see me as a human.
Despite the countless hours studying, writing papers and doing projects, I’m denied the right to the higher education I thought I could earn. I graduated the top of my class in elementary school and was the salutatorian in middle school. Those accolades mean nothing to those whose job is to enforce hate, discrimination and injustice— the very same who swore under the law to promote peace. The face of those in power only want to fabricate and brush over those who look ‘illegal’ as detrimental ‘aliens’ who want to harm the economy. They use me as a scapegoat for a broken political system. A demagogue is running for president, but that of course is all my fault.
I received an email stating it was illegal for me to continue a post-secondary education. I received a scholarship at a specific college, but I was told I could only receive the non-monetary value of the award. What good was a scholarship without money? It is a legal trap. We can attend primary and secondary education, but without a mean to legalize status, we can barely go on to college and work legally in the country.
Under the Obama administration, more than 2.5 million people have been deported.
That is $23,482 for each person to be apprehended, detained, processed, and transported out of the country.
And with current politics, if the U.S were to remove all 11.2 million undocumented immigrants, it would cost the government up to $600 billion and about 20 years (according to the American Action Forum Study).
Instead of wasting money that separates families, the U.S could spend it on providing over five million permanent shelters for the homeless, increasing NASA’s budget for space exploration, and providing funds for college.
According to CollegeBoard, the average tuition of a four year public college is just above $20,000 a year. With the amount that goes into deportation, nearly four million students would be able to go to college for free.
In 2012, the Obama administration finally passed DACA, a program that would stop deporting young undocumented individuals. By giving individuals an opportunity to realize their full potential, states will see an increase in income growth and job growth.
However, DACA has its flaws. Only the young are safe, but what about the parents of twelve year old children? Does the government expect to displace every child whose parents have been deported into a foster home?
If Congress supports DAPA, another deferred program for parents of DACA recipients, families will no longer have to go through heart wrenching separations.
What we need to do as a society is to support these legislations. It is the only way for those who have pledged to the flag since the moment they stepped into kindergarten, and those who pay in total $14.6 billion a year in state and local taxes, a chance for the protection they deserve—the very justice and tranquility that has been ordained by the Constitution.
My father has an old school way of thought. He believes hard work will always pay off. As much as America denies us opportunities, he serves as a role model for me and this country. He deals with his responsibilities and provides more for my family than we deserve.
I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I would like to make it clear: please stop sending out false hope.
If this country is a place for dreams to come true, where the streets are paved with gold, then give those who are willing to salute and serve a country they call home proper documentation or keep us out entirely. There are so many obstacles that await me, and I am only 18. Of course I am afraid. There are millions of people who hate me because I am considered the drug addict, the rapist, the one who snatches jobs from others. However, the only thing I can do is keep moving forward.