The following is a submission from Tiffany – a participant in ATLAS: DIY’s Project ACCESS. In 2012, Atlas DIY developed the idea of ACCESS lawyering. The premise for Project ACCESS was the realization that the law had strayed too far from the hands and understanding of the individual. We say that our clients and the immigrant community were aware of laws limiting their activities but knew very little about the laws and regulations put in place for their protection. This created an opportunity for exploitation, and many of our clients had been abused in different areas of our life. Thus Project ACCESS came into being.
How can I start to begin the story of my life, a story that will touch many undocumented immigrants out there? The decision to come to America was not a choice of my own, but that of my mother. I’m not saying she made the wrong decision and I am pleased that my mother ultimately brought me here. I arrived in the United States at the age of thirteen and even then, I knew that because of my drive, I would graduate from high school and go to college to further my goal of becoming a lawyer.
In high school I was awarded several soccer and academic scholarships, but due to the fact of being undocumented, my life was unhappy. I thought I wouldn’t amount to anything in my life. I graduated from high school a year early, but saw my friends bypass me academically as they all started college before I was able to begin. My undocumented status made me feel embarrassed, but I never gave up.
The truth is, I looked to God for strength and prayed that one day my life would change for the better. I was angry with my mother and my aunt. My aunt encouraged my mother to come the US with our family. My mother became a US citizen and all of my siblings have their green card, so I alone am undocumented within my family. My mother had no clue of how the immigration system worked and she remained a green card holder rather than a citizen for most of her life. She applied too late for me to adjust my status, when I could have become a citizen of the United States.
Today, I am twenty-four years old and remain undocumented. Through many trials and tribulations, I have made it though. I continue to struggle, but I know that I will be victorious because I keep my faith and trust in God. I am currently in college and continue to work toward my goal of attending law school. It has been ten years since I arrived in this country and DACA has given me hope that one day I will have a pathway toward citizenship. I hope that other Dreamers will hold onto their dreams throughout their struggles. Take it from me, there is hope at the end of the rope.