When I was 3 years old, my parents left Morelia, Mexico, to immigrate to the U.S. They wanted a better life for us. For my parents, this meant providing me and my sister with a good education. Despite working three part-time jobs, my dad still managed to take us to and from school every day. My mom also made sure we were involved in extracurricular activities at school.
Soon, I learned to love the place I now call home: Milwaukee.
But growing up, I didn’t realize I would one day be limited by my undocumented status. My parents instilled in me the importance of going to college, but federal policy told me otherwise. Because of my status, I couldn’t receive federal funding for my education. This made it very difficult for me to finish college. I had to work multiple jobs, and I rarely had time to enjoy my college experience like many of my peers.
America is the only home I can remember, and yet I feel alienated and unwelcome. It’s mentally and emotionally draining to have to educate people about my situation, to get people to understand that my family is as American as any other.
We can make the United States a place where “we, the people,” includes all of us. This country can be a home where everyone can thrive and reach their full potential—no exception. Our families must have a road map to citizenship. We must not be treated as expendable and deportable, because immigrants are essential.