My name is Mannie. I'm 27 years old and I am a documented dreamer. My American story began when I moved to the United States in 2007 at 14 years old. My father decided to move my family from Zambia to America because he wanted to pursue a doctoral degree and to have the best educational opportunity for my whole family under the F1 visa program.
I had the typical American high school experience while making lifelong friends as I assimilated into the American culture. After graduating high school with my friends, reality kicked in as I realized the obstacles I had in my future for me to continue my education and live in the United States. As a dependent of an F1 visa holder, I could not go to university or have any work authorization unless I converted to an F1 visa as well. With international students charged double to attend college, it took my family a couple of years to finally be able to convert to an F1 visa and start my higher education. I attended West Texas A&M University where I graduated with a business degree and the hope of getting a work visa. I was unsuccessful in my pursuit of a work visa due to the limited time I had to work and the competitiveness of the h1b program. To stay legal in the country that had been my home for 12 years, I had to go back to school or face self-deportation. I completed my MBA degree in 2020. I'm now back in the same situation of trying to find a company willing to sponsor a work visa for me to continue my American life. A year from now, I again face the possibility of self deporting from what has been my home for the last 14 years.
Had I lost legal status in 2012, I would qualify for DACA provisions as I meet every other requirement for the status. I do not see myself any different from someone under DACA status as we were all brought here as children by our parents. I may not be American on paper, but I feel American. I hope the new dreamer pathway to citizenship legislation includes people like me.