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Edder Martinez

Edder, 27 from Arizona, born in Mexico

Like most high school seniors, I took the SAT, applied to scholarships, filled out college applications, and was accepted into a program. Unlike most high school seniors, I then found out about my immigration status, and my world screeched to a halt. A few months prior to my graduation from high school in 2007, Arizona legislators voted to enact HB2471, an amendment that described in-state tuition as a public benefit. The law declared undocumented youth as ineligible to receive in-state tuition, because it is unlawful for us to receive public benefit of any kind. Despite being raised in Arizona and contributing to the state I call home, I wasn’t good enough. When I received my first college tuition bill, I realized how much my legal status affected my life. I was crushed. My education stagnated immediately after high school. I didn’t reenter a classroom until 2013. My mom sacrificed her entire life to see her sons graduate from college, so it became my life goal to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in honor of my mom, who pressed on in the face of seemingly impenetrable odds. Now, I am proud to be a first-generation college student. I’ve worked full-time my entire college career, but that doesn’t stop me from being involved at school. I co-founded a student organization with the mission to educate, advocate and create community among undocumented students at Arizona State University. I am my fraternity’s community service chair, coordinating volunteer work around the Phoenix area. I am also a part of Undergraduate Student Government Downtown as the elected Senator for the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Because of DACA, I own a car, I have a mortgage, and I have a steady job with benefits and a 401(k). I am able to have a social security card. I have the ability to work legally and pay taxes. I have a driver’s license, and I can pay in-state tuition. DACA has allowed me to pursue my dreams, unencumbered. For this I am eternally grateful. Higher education access for DREAMers is important for our society because it makes sense financially and is morally the right thing to do. Undocumented youth can contribute millions of dollars into the economy when we’re brought out of the shadows and into the tax-paying mainstream. We want to start businesses, employ others, and begin to innovate and create new technologies that will help our shared country be competitive in various areas. Most DREAMers only really know this country, and, like everyone, we should have the chance for success.