“I came to the United States when I was a kid, about four years old. And we came here legally, we just overstayed our visa. And well, it starts to define your future, you know you can’t really advance because of a system that’s there. I didn’t have a social security number so therefore I couldn’t really prove that I live here. So, I was held back with that.
I had to really work hard at it. But I got a job and they sponsored me to be able to pay in-state tuition. So that was the reason why I was able to get an education. So, it’s not that I gave up (in actions), it’s just more so how I felt (discouraged). I still think that it’s very unfortunate that it’s still happening, so that’s kind of why I agreed to do this interview. Because, you know, it’s unbelievable that some of the kids now just don’t go to school and are growing up not able to get an education simply because of a paper.
Looking back, I think that I was fortunate to have friends really go out of the way to help me, like getting jobs in the second and third shift to be able to go to college. But, you know, I’m just fortunate that, in the midst of it all, there are still good people out there.
But I think that in-state tuition would mean everything. They’ll be able to actually afford college, drive to and from work with a license, still be able to dedicate themselves to study. I mean I think that would be a big change for them. So, I think they deserve it.
I’m just hoping that leaders change their mind to really think about people that have no safe zone, that just want to pursue a career you know? The country that they live in, that’s the country they see as home. What I hope will continue to happen in the future is that people that are actually making decisions, like you mentioned you were going to show these interviews to – for them to actually sit down and realize that they can influence this. We need to change things so that people can at least have a fair shot.
I think that my image of immigration status, to make it very simple, is two blocks. A square on the left, and a square on the right, and there’s an imaginary line in between them to separate them. At the end of the day, the blocks are still the same. The only thing that separates them is that imaginary line, which people can’t seem to get past.
*Pseudonym, not his real name. Data collected in 2017.
Research study conducted by Dr. Laura M. Gonzalez, School of Ed., UNC Greensboro