My name is Jorge and I am American in every way, except on paper. I am also a dreamer, with the exception that my legal status says otherwise. My story in this wonderful country began in 2002, when my parents, under an E2 visa, decided to move to America from Colombia in hopes of providing my brother and I a better future. Here in America I walked home from Omni middle school every day, I went to prom in Spanish River High School, and I met my best friends throughout these 18 years. However, despite my complete cultural assimilation, I could not be more detached from American citizenship.
Children like me, who are brought here on certain long-term visas, have a race against time to get their green cards before they turn 21, or they face significantly reducing their chances to stay in this country. I lost that race, and when I turned 21, I had to become an international student overnight, as I was no longer allowed to fall under my parents’ visa. I attended Emory University’s Goizueta Business School under a full-tuition academic scholarship, so I was hopeful that despite this immigration setback, I would be able to compete for the limited H1B visa slots with other international students. Unfortunately, I did not make the entirely random lottery system, so today I find myself on my third degree, still fighting to remain home.
Even though I meet the main provisions for DACA and the proposed Dream Act, because I am not “undocumented,” I am not able to work (unlike dreamers who have work permits). Additionally, I have to pay extremely expensive international student tuition. Due to the huge economical strain of my situation, I only have one year left here as I cannot continue to afford to pay for degrees that I do not need. A viewpoint that I often hear is that unlike dreamers I do not have the fear of being deported, but I argue that I certainly do. You see, one year from now, I will be “self-deported.” The only difference is that I’m being kicked out by the system, and not by agents. I am also being driven out of my home.
The central basis of support for dreamers is that they were brought here as children. And so, solutions should help all children who grew up here, both undocumented and documented. People like myself need to be included in future Dreamer legislation, because it most accurately reflects our immigration story, as we also deserve a chance to remain home. I hope that we are granted the same opportunity as dreamers to work and remain home, as documented Dreamers like myself and them are virtually indistinguishable.