Most people look forward to turning 21 but that is something that dependent visa holders like me dread. Turning 21 means that I will age out of the system and have to fight to stay in this country, a country that has become home to me.
I was born in India and I moved to the United States when I was just 3 years old. I have known about my visa status since middle school, but I only understood the seriousness of the problem around junior year of high school. As my dad explained to me that I don’t qualify for in-state tuition or most financial aid, don’t have work authorization, can’t easily pursue a career in health care, and would have to self-deport or switch to a student visa before I turn 21, I began to question everything and I entered a dark place. Despondent thoughts consumed me, and I spent countless days and nights worrying about my future and feeling so utterly powerless. The American Dream that I had spent all these years in school learning about seemed like a lie.
It just didn’t make sense. I used to think that America was a country where everyone had equal opportunities. I used to think that if I worked hard, I could be anything I want to be. But I’ve come to realize that isn’t necessarily true for Documented Dreamers like me.
Time seems to be moving very slow but also very fast. Every long day that passes where no administrative action is taken to protect Documented Dreamers, I become one day closer to aging out of the system. I am a Dreamer too, and I just want to be given a real chance to chase my American Dream.
Click to read Lakshmi's full story on Medium.