Thursday, February 21, 2008
Sometimes i feel like i should just prolong my time in school. Leaving the university will only take me to a "now what" stage. Graduate school is very feasible actually here in Texas, but the money is hard to put together if you are a DREAMER. However, in Texas it is undoubtedly easier than it is in California to attain financial help and go to school, but it is a challenge nonetheless if you are a DREAMER. I have had to take more than two semester off as well to put money together and be able to pay for school. Sometimes i also feel like i am not fully part of the whole college experience by dropping by for a couple of semester in a row and then taking some time to work and save the money.
Today i read Stephanie's story and unlike her, i have never been mad at my parents for being undocumented, I'm actually thankful to them for everything- they made a choice to come to this country because it is their job to give me and my brother a better life and they have done a wonderful job. I have become the person that i am because of them, i am stronger because of them and they are stronger because of me.
Every day we live not knowing what is going to happen, we live with the reality of the little things that remind us that we are undocumented. This country has a sure way of flicking you in the head and making you internalize fear, anger, sadness. Easy trips such as wanting to join the local gym and having them reject you for not having a state ID is quite a trip really.
I still have the dream that one day i will wake up and not be scared, sad, or upset. The day that i along with my brother and the thousands of dreamers in this country will celebrate our freedom. The day that justice will knock our door.
Struggling with noncitizen status
Hardships of being an undocumented immigrant force student to work long hours to finish school
* Jessica Chou, Daily Bruin staff
* Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2008
They finally broke the news to her after 18 years.
Stephanie Solis’ parents had hoped to hold back for as long as any secret could stay hidden, but it was only a matter of time before they had to tell the fourth-year English student the truth.
Solis was not in the United States legally.
For Solis, who only spoke English and had little recollection of her native Philippines, the notion that she wasn’t legally an American shocked her.
“I don’t feel very Filipino,” Solis said. “I’m told I’m not an American. But the only thing that still rings true to me is the English language.”
Her youth so far had been American in so many ways.
In the living room, her father listened to Rush Limbaugh. In the kitchen, her mother read Us Weekly.
Perhaps the only foreign connection to the Philippines that could have been found in her home was the homemade avocado ice cream in the freezer.
Solis felt so betrayed by her parents for having kept her immigration status from her for so long that she moved out and set out on her own.
Solis remembers sitting at a bus stop roughly a year later watching the cars go by as she waited for the bus that would take her to the train that would whisk her to a job making cardboard boxes.
Her life had become one of compromises – commuting six hours a day on public transit because she couldn’t get a driver’s license and saving up to pay for school.
By 2005, Solis started at UCLA, but because of her immigration status, paying for school was a major burden. Undocumented students are ineligible for financial aid, scholarships and many other types of financial assistance to help pay the fees.
Instead, many undocumented students are forced to pick up odd jobs to pay for their education.
Solis, like many undocumented students, has taken an unusually long time to get her degree.
“I’m in a position where I can’t consistently go to school,” she said.
Forced to take time off from work between quarters of school, Solis has been in college on and off for the last six years.
“There is that inconsistency which removes me from the standard college experience. I don’t feel like I’m integrated into it. I drop in when I can, and I visit when I can afford to for a quarter, and I’m there for 3 months, and I leave,” Solis said.
“And by the time I come back, everybody who was at the same level with me and everybody that I knew has already moved on or has graduated. There is that sense that I’m not going to college with my group – with my peer group. I’m going to college just with myself because I am my only peer group because everyone else is moving along at normal speed.”
Due to her hectic and stressful schedule, she woke up at odd hours and slept very little.
But it was the smaller realities of being undocumented – such as trouble cashing checks and getting a library card – that really got to her.
“It is the subtle things that flick me on the forehead reminding me that there is something wrong with who I am,” Solis said.
With her graduation finally imminent, Solis feels uneasy about what’s to come.
Like many undocumented college graduates, Solis will have difficulty finding a job without proof of legal residence, despite her degree from a top undergraduate program.
“The irony about that is that there is a sense of wanting to continue to prolong being in college simply because once I’m out and I have my degree, there’s nothing that I can really do with it.”
Image obtained here