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Sanjana's Story

When I was younger, I thought it was unfair that I could not live with my parents. I didn’t understand why, as I was only four or five, but I thought it was unfair. Over the next year and a half, I forgot about my parents anyway, so it didn’t matter. Once my visa was approved, my mother came back from the States to pick me up. It’s actually one of my first memories, walking into my aunt’s tiny apartment, slowly raising my eyes to see my mother having a drink on the couch facing the door. When I walked in, she put her cup down on the floor, and opened her arms, looking for a hug. I hid behind my grandmother. Me and my mother are fine now, and she rationalizes this event because it was all worth it. We are in the land of opportunity.


The next few years of my life were spent on long car rides and behind moving trucks, watching the northeastern scenery through the car window. When I was younger, my parents couldn’t live together, and I didn’t understand why. It didn’t matter, I just moved from school to school, waiting for the next move. Now, me, my mom, and my dad live together in Alabama, and we are pretty happy. My parents rationalize a tumultuous decade because it was apparently all worth it. Again, we are in the land of opportunity.


The summer before sophomore year, I wanted a job. I was fourteen, and the only place that I knew hired was Publix. My dad drove me there, and I waited for an hour behind a tall lanky kid at the kiosk. I got to the social security question, I called my dad, and he said I didn’t have one. The car ride back home, I reached an understanding about my immigration status. That, I am, in fact documented, but I do not have any privileges of those who have permanent residency status or citizenship. This, of course, meant I could not get a job. Now, I know it means that I don’t qualify for most scholarships, paid internships, and in-state intuition is iffy. Getting a driver’s permit was a year-long effort because of my previously mentioned lack of a social security number. Actually, I didn’t understand all of this on that car ride, but with plenty of time to reflect, I understand that my financial independence, security, and my place in this country are not protected.

When I ask my mother why she moved to the States, leaving her family behind, she just replies that she wanted more freedom and opportunities for me. But all of those opportunities seem distant, and my time here seems limited. Actually, those opportunities are distant, and my time here is limited. My parents might get a green card by the time I turn 21, or I will age-out. All I’m looking for is security. All my life, that seemed like it was too much to ask.


I hope this country will treat all children, documented or undocumented, who grew up here equally, and will give them the opportunities that they deserve as Americans. 

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