Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.
My high school classmates are from all over the world. They travel a lot, to visit their families, and even for school trips to countries like France and Mexico. When friends ask why I can't travel, I say my family can't afford it. But really it's because I might never be able to return home to the U.S.
I consider myself Mexican-American. But because my birth certificate says "Mexico" instead of "United States," there are a lot of things I'm not able to do in this country, even though I've been here since I was two years old.
Not being a U.S citizen wasn't a handicap when I was younger. I just knew I had to be careful about telling people I was born in Mexico. My family wants to begin the naturalization process, but we're scared of what might happen. We have family friends who've tried and ended up getting deported. My parents are scared the same thing could happen to us. We have no idea what to do.
Now that I'm applying to college, my immigration status has become a big worry. When Senate Republicans and a single Democrat filibustered the Dream Act in September, it was a big disappointment for me. Without the Dream Act I can't receive any financial aid, UC scholarships, or student loans.
And then there's the fact that getting a degree might not guarantee me a great job. I don't have a social security number or other documentation employers look for. So finding a job that pays me well will be difficult. I've actually thought about going to live in Mexico and getting a job there. Because I speak fluent English and Spanish it would be easy to get a job as a translator. Still, I can't imagine living in Mexico. I loved being there on vacation, but I knew I'd be returning home, to the U.S.
There have been times where I've asked myself why I'm working so hard when my status is working against me. I've felt like giving up. It's scary--I have no idea how my parents and I will be able to pay for my education without help. But my parents always taught me that an education is the best way to get ahead in life. And I'm not going to let them down.
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