I am an immigrant. My dad was deported. My uncle joined the Air Force and we got green cards. Robert García.
I am an immigrant. I was born in Guatemala and came to the United States with my mother, sister, and other members of my family when I was four years old. We were part of an exodus from Guatemala to the United States.
Today my family includes a lawyer, a medical doctor, and an MBA. We have two generations of Stanford students, and graduates from or students at Harvard, Cornell, Princeton, Boston University, Columbia, Colgate, and other schools, with more on the way. Our family includes workers in different areas and cities. We vote. We pay taxes.
My family of immigrants, New York 1957
My uncle Julio came from Guatemala to join the US Air Force when he was 17 – without immigration papers. After joining the Air Force he worried that he would be deported if they found out. He went to the commanding officer of his base and said “Sir, I have to make a confession.” “What happened?” Julio told the officer. “I arrived here without papers.” The officer asked, “Do you like it here in this country?” “Very much,” Julio answered. “And do you like being in the Air Force?” his officer asked. “I love it,” Julio answered. “You want to stay here?” “Yes,” Julio said, “I am certain I would like it.” “OK,” his officer said. The officer rang a bell and an official arrived. “Arrange Julio’s papers for his US citizenship,” he said. That’s how they arranged it. Julio served in the US Air Force for 20 years before retiring. He arranged for my great grandfather, grandparents, mother and father, uncle, aunt, sister, two cousins, and me to immigrate to the US with green cards.
My father had previously been deported twice, before returning with the immigration papers that Julio and my grandfather helped secure.
Dayana Molina and Michelle Kao at the new Civil Rights Park in Los Angeles celebrating the Movement
I am a Dreamer. Organizer Dayana Molina.
I received my Dreamer status in May 2013, under President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. This program stops the deportation of eligible young adults. I am eligible to work, pay taxes, drive, and travel within the US. I knew that my newly acquired status would open doors for me, but I felt sadness because my parents could not benefit directly. They have been in this country as long as I have, and have worked low paying jobs for more than 20 years. It was hard to come to terms with the fact that I would be the only one to benefit from their many years of sacrifice and hard work.
Today President Obama’s announcement of his proposed executive action on immigration reform is some of the best news I have received in my entire life.
I am hopeful that President Obama’s announcement will further benefit the millions of youth under his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, as well as their parents and older generations of immigrants who work hard everyday.
“Dreamer status has given me hope. It makes me think that perhaps this country is finally taking steps forward towards comprehensive immigration reform. I would like to have a path to citizenship, and I would like the right to vote. I am hopeful my efforts to gain my degree will not be in vain. I hope the laws will change to make it possible for hard working immigrants to finally count and live the life we deserve.”
I am an Immigrant. Intern Michelle Kao, UCLA.
I am an immigrant. I was born in Canada to an extended network of families escaping the specter of Chinese communism. I came to America with my family when I was only three years old.Growing up in a predominantly nonimmigrant neighborhood, I have not only experienced the snide offhand remark about the shape of my eyes and the color of my skin, but the derision of classmates who didn’t know any better about the label “immigrant.” In middle school, I distinctly remember a classmate questioning the legality of my status, and whether or not I had to “jump fences to get here.” The ignorance and prejudice surrounding immigrants—with legal status or otherwise—is pervasive and unjust.The discriminatory image of faceless immigrant masses I confronted in my youth are thankfully being addressed in President Barack Obama’s proposed executive action on immigration reform. He not only humanizes and distinguishes the vast nuances of the immigrant community by prioritizing “felons, not families. Criminals, not children,” but also provides hope for hardworking immigrant families to remain together.This is a country of immigrants—we may not have been born here, but we are here to stay.
City Project intern Michelle Kao is a UCLA senior with a double major in Political Science and Japanese. She plans to go to law school. She is on the boards of Yukai Daiko, a traditional Japanese drumming group, and the Chinese Cultural Dance Club at UCLA.
Click here for the Justice Department memo on the President’s authority to enforce immigration laws.
Click here for the letter by 10 leading legal scholars: “While we differ among ourselves on many issues relating to Presidential power and immigration policy, we are all of the view that these actions are lawful. They are exercises of prosecutorial discretion that are consistent with governing law and with the policies that Congress has expressed in the statutes that it has enacted.”