Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

My Illegal Status Shouldn't Keep Me from Learning

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

My Illegal Status Shouldn't Keep Me from Learning

Article excerpt

(Editor's Note: Luz is a pseudonym. The writer's name has been changed to protect her identity.)

I have a secret that I am afraid to share with anyone but my closest friends: I don't have papers; I'm an undocumented immigrant.

My father abandoned our family when I was little, and my mother was forced to raise us alone. There was no work in Mexico. So, when I was 10 years old, she left me and my brother in the care of her best friend and went north to see if she could make a better life for us.

My mother crawled through sewer pipes full of rats and sludge to cross the border and eventually made her way to Chicago. She sent for us two years later. My brother and I were brought over by a smuggler -- known as a coyote -- who took us to a remote location where we had to squirm under a fence and then run for dear life.

I have never returned. Now I'm 21, and over the years, Chicago has became my home and memories of Mexico have faded. Although I speak Spanish with my mother, my primary language outside of the home is English. Most of my friends were born here and a lot of them don't know anything about my immigration status.

My mother's sacrifices motivated me to become a hard worker and to do well in school. These days, I attend a community college so I can one day become a teacher. To pay for my education, I spend nights and weekends bagging groceries.

Unfortunately, despite my good grades, I may not be able to stay in school much longer because I am undocumented. …

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