THE BLOG
11/06/2012 11:15 am ET Updated Jan 06, 2013

I Have a Voice Through Your Vote

Last year, I found myself walking across a red carpet on a well-lit stage in front of friends, family and colleagues at one of the most memorable events of my life: my graduation from the City University of New York School of Law. As I was being hooded to signify a ritual of acceptance as a lawyer, I felt everything was perfect: I was about to finally be a lawyer! At first blush, my graduation appeared to be the first day of a great journey to become the legal advocate for the community that helped me along the way.

As I walked off the stage, however, my joy receded as the reality of my situation finally hit: I may never become a lawyer despite my hard work; despite the endless all-nighters; despite the five hour commutes each day to class from the south shore of Staten Island to Flushing, Queens, all because I am undocumented.

I came to the U.S. from Mexico when I was only five-years-old. After my father passed away, my courageous mother came to the U.S. for a better life. Since then I have embraced the U.S. as my home; I have embraced New York City as my home.

On Oct. 22, I filed an application for admission to the New York bar, making me the third undocumented immigrant in the country seeking to be admitted to a state bar to obtain a law license. While the New York bar application asks for country of birth and immigration status, the requirements for admission say nothing about legal immigration status. In essence, I am not asking for any special treatment -- rather, simply be given the same opportunity as my colleagues, after I have passed every test required of them. But there is more at stake this year.

As the Latino vote takes center stage in the 2012 election cycle, the DREAM Act has become more prominent. The DREAM Act would create a path to legal status for undocumented high school graduates through college or the military.

We are not alone: Half of my family is either legal permanent residents or U.S citizens. It is not only our citizen family members, but also our friends, colleagues, boyfriends or girlfriends who will cast a vote this November.

I have been on television, radio, and newspapers. All this effort has not been to win fame or popularity -- rather, it is to share my story and push back against the demagoguery the extreme right wing of the Republican Party has adopted with impunity against my community.

The immigrant youth movement has promised that we will never forget those who decided to break promises made to them. There were politicians who never supported us and were clear about it, but there were others who dared to look us in the eye, tell us they cared about our issue and later proved they did not. These elections have become personal to us. Through our work and stories, DREAMers have been able to speak for and empower our community, spread our stories and let those who would listen (an ever-growing number) and let their community know who killed our DREAM in 2010. On November 6, our voice will be the vote of our community.