For Immediate Release: June 4, 2020
Contact: Carli Kientzle at [email protected]
Amairani of the University of Washington is TheDream.US’ “DREAMer of the Week”
Washington, DC – TheDream.US, the nation’s largest college access and success program for undocumented immigrant youth, is continuing its “DREAMer of the Week” feature – a weekly profile of a TheDream.US Scholar whose story offers a powerful example of the incalculable contributions of DREAMers to America.
This week’s DREAMer is Amairani, a recent Graduate of the University of Washington:
The experience of crossing the border and being undocumented has always been hard. Yet, the recent policy changes under the Trump administration have only exacerbated that difficulty. For many years, my reality and the reality of other undocumented young people living in the United States has been to live in the shadows, out of fear of being found. For me it is extremely important to obtain a college degree because education matters even if one is a U.S citizen or undocumented. I know that under the Trump administration there is no hope for a path to citizenship, but I know that they can’t take away my education, knowledge and skills.
Growing up, I lived without any legal protection because of my status, and was constantly anxious about what might happen to me and my family when ICE came knocking on my door. This fear is still true even though I am “protected” under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). I am grateful for this “protection” with an expiration date, but this minimal level of security means little if my parents still have no security in this country.
Every time my parents leave for work, I am scared that they will not make it back home. My siblings and I learned a basic rule to never open the door for anyone, because it could be ICE. At the age of nine I understood that a knock on the door meant turning off the television and the lights, run to a room and remain silent. We don’t have many family members near us, but friends who planned to visit knew to call prior to their arrival. At a young age I knew that we could not afford to get sick because medical insurance was not an option. My siblings and I knew not to visit the school nurse because my parents could not afford to leave work early if they were called to pick us up. This is my reality.
Mexico may be my birth place, but America is my home. When I moved to the United States, I completely hated it. I started to think of the U.S as my home when I started making friends and feeling welcomed to an extent. I have lived in the U.S for almost 14 years. This is the only place I know. Although I am not a U.S citizen, I consider myself an “American” because I refuse to let people define what an “American” should look and be like. I do not see myself living anywhere else in the world. This is my home, and I am not going anywhere.
To me, being undocumented was not an impediment until my senior year of high school. It was then that I realized how truly limiting my immigration status was in terms of having accessibility to higher education and employment. The realization that suddenly I was an un-welcomed guest in my own home, facing eviction, sent me flying into a new chapter in my life that I never wanted or imagined. My differences, while they hurt at times, have been a source of strength for me as I have gone through life.
While the rest of my classmates applied for college, I was unaware of what I was going to do next. My friends asked me which colleges I was applying to and if I was considering out of state. I felt so embarrassed not knowing anything about college that I would lie and say that maybe I would move to California or Florida because it was sunny, and I wanted a change of scenery.
After high school, I decided to attend a local community college and work full time. I am a first generation college student. Attending Bellevue College was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It helped me grow as a person and student. It helped me improve my academic grades and GPA. My interest in the Social Work profession became apparent during my sophomore year. I had finally found a subject that I thoroughly enjoyed and academically excelled in.
TheDream.US Scholarship to attend the University of Washington to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. I hope to apply for my Master’s in Social Work and specializing in clinical social work with a focus in oncology. I know that the training I will receive at the University of Washington will allow me an opportunity to work with a group of professionals who are devoted to social justice. I have a passion to help people who are struggling with poverty and who want to overcome the difficulties in their lives.
Graduating as an undocumented immigrant, and entering the job market, means confronting some closed doors and denied opportunities. But I am confident that the BASW program and degree will help me open doors and provide me with opportunities to find a job that I am passionate about. My goals are to help those who are less advantaged. I want to be able to use my values to empower people. I want to support my community by sharing my experience and knowledge. I want to be able to create a support system for youth, so they find the strengths they don’t know they possess. I want to model to others that dreams can be a reality by working hard and being persistent. I want to give back, not because I’m rich but because I know what it’s like to have nothing. Although my college experience has been truly amazing, I have faced institutional racism that makes it harder for me to achieve my goals every day. I know I must work twice as hard to achieve my dream.
TheDream.US has provided over 5,000 college scholarships to DREAMers at more than 70 partner colleges in 16 states and Washington, DC.
The Scholars’ stories are especially powerful and poignant following the Supreme Court oral arguments on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an executive action, which provided temporary legal protection for undocumented youth, terminated by President Trump in September 2017. The legal limbo and uncertainty is affecting Scholars’ lives, health, and futures and threatens to keep Scholars from fulfilling their incredible potential.
- Read through TheDream.US Scholar story-bank, featuring powerful personal reflections from Scholars about their lives, journeys, and future goals here
- Hear from two TheDream.US graduates, now working as a teacher and a nurse, discussing the impact of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program online here
- Watch a new video featuring TheDream.US college graduates online here