No need for paper to be an American

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Communications sophomore Lucia EspinoViewpoint by LUCIA ESPINO

I was born in Mexico City 23 years ago, but in the summer of 2001, I became a Mexican-American.

From the moment my family and I stepped in this country, I loved and embraced everything about it. It became my home.

The attacks of 9/11 hurt my heart as it did any other American. As a minority, I felt the aftermath of how immigrants, from all backgrounds, were viewed.

It was not until I started high school that I learned the reality and the obstacles of my legal status.

I joined the JROTC program at Fox Tech High School, and, as my rank got higher, more and more Army recruiters contacted me.

I was more than willing to enlist but they always required a “paper” saying I was an American. Why wasn’t my patriotism and love for this country enough?

The year 2007 was bittersweet. I worked hard and graduated with honors and in the Top 10 percent of my class, but again my legal status kept me from scholarships and opportunities.

At a time when the anti-immigration subject was more aggressive, even frightening enough to consider going back to Mexico, San Antonio College opened the door.

This college is giving me the opportunity for the quality higher education that brought my family and me to the U.S. in the first place.

It was at this college where I learned about the DREAM Act through the Students United for the DREAM Act.

I didn’t want to be a SUDA member at first because I was afraid to let everyone know my legal status, so I supported the organization with donations and signatures.

As the DREAM Act movement was growing, the negativity toward immigrants began to disappoint me. I felt as if we were going back in time to the civil rights movement.

After the DREAM Act’s failure, I realized the need to show others how many of us DREAMers are here, and who we really are.

I “came out” and became undocumented and unafraid.

The pursuit of happiness is not illegal, and this is exactly what I am doing.

I am undocumented because I don’t have a paper saying I was born or naturalized in the U.S., but in my heart, I have adopted this country as my home.

I don’t understand why some people don’t accept that the U.S. is the most immigrated country, and unless they are a true-blooded Native American, they probably have immigrant blood within them.

This recent election revealed more than the name of our next president; it unveiled the importance of minorities, especially Latinos/Hispanics.

Latinos/Hispanics “came out” to show that we are more than what others imagine, and they represented all of us who did not have the privilege to vote.

I qualify for the Differed Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, which will grant me a work permit.

I can look for a job that will at least pay minimum wage, and yes, some undocumented immigrants are still getting paid less than minimum wage.

With a decent paying job I can help my parents with my college tuition or any other expenses.

The DACA policy does not give me a documented status, benefits or permission to go out of the country, as many might think.

For now, I know that I can continue my education, but I don’t know what is going to happen after graduation or in the years to come.

I will never forget where I come from, and a paper will never make me more American than what I already am.


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