New York City has one of the most diverse immigrant populations in the world. According to nyc.gov, 6 out of 10 New Yorkers are immigrants or children of immigrants. Among these children are young people like Amanda*, who is the daughter of immigrants and an immigrant herself. Her parents migrated to the United States when she was just two years old, and at the age of eight, she was able to join her parents in the United States.
Amanda grew up in the Bronx, the northern borough of New York City. She considers herself a Bronxite and a New Yorker. The Bronx is one of the most diverse boroughs in New York, in her neighborhood, Concourse Village, 41 percent of the population is foreign born. Amanda grew up among immigrants who come from different parts of the world, just like her and her family. Learning English was a challenge for Amanda in the beginning. However, because her dream was to become a doctor, she was determined to learn to speak and write English perfectly so that she can attend college.
Her hard work eventually paid off. In high school, Amanda was an honor student, and she wanted to get accepted into one of the top universities in the United States. However, while applying for colleges, Amanda's dreams were shattered. She realized that she was undocumented and could not attend an expensive university without scholarships or help from student loans.
Fortunately, on July 15, 2012, President Barack Obama implemented a bill called DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival). Although DACA is not a pathway to a Green Card, it provides temporary relief or protection from deportation. Amanda learned about this bill through her high school counselor. When she found out she was eligible to apply, she spoke to her parents. With help from a local not-for-profit organization, Amanda was able to apply for free. Thanks to DACA, Amanda was able to get a social security card and a work permit, which allowed her to work and help her parents.
Although Amanda was not able to apply to the university of her dreams, she got into a top local college with help from her parents. Amanda is not able to get help from student loans, but she is able to work and pay her way through college. Amanda has not given up on her dream of becoming a doctor; she hopes that when she graduates in four years, the immigration reforms for undocumented immigrants will improve and give dreamers like her the opportunity to execute the American dream.
*Amanda is not a real person but an example of undocumented youths going through similar circumstances.
If you or anyone you know is going through a situation similar to Amanda's, there is hope. While the immigration issue continues to be controversial, there are now steps you can take to become part of society and begin to reach for your goals and dreams. Visit these links for more information about DACA and learn more about its eligibility requirements:
Photo taken from nyc.gov
written by Dafny Guzman