My name is Brenda. I was born in Mexico in a little town where I spent the first five years of my life with my mom and my sister. I don’t remember much of what happened after we left home, as I was asleep for the most part. Bits and pieces form in my mind, but not enough to be able to distinguish what really happened from whatever my imagination has formed. I went through eight years of schooling not really knowing what it meant to be undocumented. I was unaffected. In 2012 before my high school orientation, my sister, my mom and I stood outside of Navy Pier in the longest line ever for the Free DACA workshops that were being offered. We waited for hours outside because there were so many people there. We left before we had a chance to go in. That was when I realized how many people were being affected by this, including a couple of my closest friends.
“I went through eight years of schooling not really knowing what it meant to be undocumented. I was unaffected.”
I never felt very different from my classmates until one day my high school advisor suggested an advisory trip out of the country. I knew I couldn’t travel, but I was afraid to say it out loud. When my class started talking about colleges and FAFSA, I missed out on class because I knew I couldn’t apply for FAFSA. If it wasn’t for DACA, I would not have had the opportunity to get a job and be able to afford to attend school. Because of DACA, I even got to travel out of the country through advanced parole. I went to Mexico for the first time after 13 years of wondering what it was like.
“If it wasn’t for DACA, I would not have had the opportunity to get a job and be able to afford to attend school.”
I am currently attending Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois. I have recently declared my majors in biology and psychology. My goal is to attend medical school and one day open up my own practice in an underprivileged Chicago neighborhood. If it wasn’t for DACA and for the amazing people at Noble who helped me apply, I wouldn’t be here.
On September 5, 2017 I was walking to the coffee shop before my 10:00 am class while scrolling down the Snapchat stories. Someone had taken a picture of the news. Immediately I texted my sister about what I had read. When I walked into the lecture hall, my friend was sitting at her seat crying. I asked her what was wrong even though I already knew. Through tears she said, “He ended the program.”. Up until then, I was still shaken and had no immediate reaction. Seeing her cry absolutely broke me. Me and my friend are the only DACA students in a lecture hall of 48. Nobody in that hall could have even guessed why we were crying or what we were feeling. I spent the rest of the day in my room receiving texts from a couple of friends who knew of the situation and my amazing alumni coordinator who always reaches out when I need her. I spoke to my mom who sent me love and reassurance from three hours away.
“Nobody in that hall could have even guessed why we were crying or what we were feeling.”
I was angry. It was unfair for this to happen. We went through so much to even be granted DACA. We were in school because of it, we had jobs because of it, we were unafraid because of it. Our future remains uncertain, but we have to stick together and be strong. I had kept quiet about my status for so long. It’s a subject people at school don’t talk about, so people at school also don’t know that the girl down the hall or the person sitting next to them is being affected. I don’t want to be quiet anymore. I am unapologetically part of the 800,000.