My Name is Gabriel and I am Undocumented
When I was I kid I used to practice holding my breath as a game. I would try to see how long I could last and then try to go even longer. One time I lasted a minute and a half; it felt as though a hammer was beating my lungs. I never imagined that I would be holding my breath for twenty years.
I was always aware of my status; even as a young boy my parents had told me about it. They explained their reasoning for coming here and what our goals and aspirations as a family were. So I grew up always knowing, however it was only until junior year in high school that I really understood the gravity of our situation. And with that understanding came a downward spiral during which I practically gave up all efforts in school; my reasoning was, why bother with all this work if it’s not going to amount to anything.
I managed to better my grades and keep my hopes up somewhat during my last year in school, and even flirted with the idea of applying to some universities; but without status and with no money, it was a difficult journey ahead. So, rather than begin my college studies with the rest of my peers, I proceeded to join the underground economy and with my share of odd jobs, save some money.
During that time I joined my father in community gatherings and forums to promote a bill allowing undocumented students to pay instate tuition. At these gatherings I spoke to families about the potential of our youth and the benefits of this bill; I talked about the difficult choices that an undocumented teen had to make when there was no means to gain access to higher education.
It wasn’t until a year after graduation that hope finally came in the form of AB 540, allowing me to enroll in a local community college.
Sure, I had met my goal and, facing difficult barriers, obtained a degree. But now what?
Being in my mid twenties I see all the time that has passed me by, and how a lot of it has been wasted by this constant worry that not having nine digits entails. I look at all the opportunities missed, the demeaning jobs, anger and despair, and realize that I don’t want undocumented kids just graduating from high school to go through that. I also look towards my future, or lack of, and feel the tugging of time as each year passes. To be a 30-year-old fast food worker is not something that I aspire to. I want to be able to finally breathe.
These are my reasons for fighting for the DREAM Act.