By Gaby Pacheco January 31, 2018
Cristopher Aguirre, 19, from New York born in Ecuador
I spent the first six months of my life in Ecuador and the next nineteen and a half years in America. And yet, I’m still not American to some people. I will always be proud to say I am Ecuadorian because that is the country I was born in and the country my parents were born in. But I identify as an American. The United States is the only country I know, because I lived my whole life here. I took my first steps here and lived every moment that I remember here in America. Just because I don’t have the same legal status as others, does not make me less of an American than they are. I belong in the country I love and have grown up with. I am an American. We, as DREAMers, deserve the chance to fulfill our potential – just like American citizens and all people do. We grew up alongside citizens, started kindergarten and graduated high school alongside citizens. We learned and grew alongside citizens. If you take away immigration status, we are all equal.I have always had a loving home and there was nothing that my parents did not provide for me. They always made sure that I had food on my plate. It was hard for them at first in this country, struggling with money, but despite any hardships, they always made sure I was well taken care of. I never asked for much because I knew I had everything— I had my mom and my dad. I knew children my age who didn’t have their parents. Both my mother and father made it to college but only managed to complete one year. They sacrificed everything so I could have a better future, leaving the only country they knew for a new and unfamiliar place. My father was one of the best “marchando” (power walkers) in Ecuador, but he gave it all up to come to America to provide opportunities for me so I can be successful. He wants me, his first son to succeed and accomplish huge things that he knows I am capable of. I always tell my parents that what they have sacrificed for me, is something they won’t regret because I am going to make them proud. My parents are undocumented, but I was blessed to receive DACA in 2012. The program has allowed me to work, to get my driver’s license, and to feel safer. But most importantly it has blessed me with TheDream.US scholarship. It is a wonderful opportunity that I value very much: I want to show America what DREAMers are capable of. That we want to succeed in life just like every other person in the country. After college, I plan to pursue a law degree and become an attorney so I can help those who are in the same position I have been. I know how it feels to be undocumented and I want them to know that they are not alone. I want to help those who need it but are sometimes scared to ask for help or can’t afford legal representation. I remember when I was in middle school and realized that I wanted to be an attorney. My parents and I went to go buy me a suit because I had a school formal to attend. When I came out my room to show my parents how I looked, they first said that I looked handsome and that they loved the young adult I was turning into. I told my mom she is going to get used to me seeing like this, because I am going to be an attorney. I told her that I am going to come visit her and then when I’m leaving I’ll say “Bye mami, tengo que ir a una consulta con mi cliente por que tengo que ir a representarle in corte manana. Te veo mas luego, te amo” (“Bye mom, I have to go to consult with my client because I have to go represent them in court tomorrow. I’ll see you later, I love you.”)
‘Till this day, I always playback that memory, so I know to keep on working hard no matter the circumstances. I want to and will make my parents proud, and make the vision of what I told my mother true.