My name is Pareen Mhatre. I am currently a third year biomedical engineering student minoring in business administration at the University of Iowa. I am also a Documented Dreamer.
I was born in India, and my parents brought me to Cincinnati, Ohio when I was four months old in August 2000 as a dependent on my mother’s student visa. After a year we moved to Iowa City, Iowa. My parents completed multiple degrees at the University of Iowa, and both parents started to work for the university.
I was enrolled in the Iowa City Community School District from K-12. Having lived in this country for virtually my whole life, my roots are here in Iowa and I am a Midwesterner. As I grew up, I volunteered for many organizations in my community, including the public library and the local hospital. I have been part of teams that have competed in various STEM and student journalism competitions at both state and national-levels. During my time at school, at every step of the way, I formed relationships with teachers and students that have had a life-long impact on me.
Over the past 21 years, my parents and I have received love and help from many wonderful people of this country, and we are very much grateful for it. At the same time, our hearts break when we think of my future immigration status, and that of many other documented Dreamers. Due to the uncertainty of my situation, I have been in constant fear for the past 5 years. Despite living here my whole life and having, very literally, grown up on my university campus, I am considered an international student. After spending nearly my entire life here, I am encountering the same hurdles as newly arrived international students. I am now a junior at the University of Iowa. My future goal is to work in the STEM field to contribute to advancements in medical devices. However, due to my status, the inability to obtain internships has limited me in terms of acquiring the professional experiences for my goals.
I just received my F-1 student visa, however, I cannot help but think of the barriers down the road when I apply for a work visa. There's a chance I could get denied, and I would have to leave my home of 21 years and go back to a country that I have not lived in since I was a baby. In addition to this, I was denied work authorization for 21 years and now, being an international student puts me at a disadvantage in terms of acquiring internships. I feel behind compared to my peers, and I know my immigration status will continue to change. I just want to feel some sort of security in the home I grew up in. If Congress were to pass the Dream and Promise Act with the inclusion of Documented Dreamers, thousands of people like myself would be able to finally give back to their communities and pursue their American Dream.