This I Believe

Nadia - College Station, Texas
Entered on May 9, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: immigrant
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I am writing in behalf of all the Americans including also the more than 12 million undocumented workers that live in this country. Today more than never in America the sentiments of discrimination against a group of people, in this case the undocumented immigrants, have been awaken. I think that my own life experience is a great example of why it would be very important to give legalization to those who have been living in this country as undocumented immigrants and who can demonstrate that they have been good citizens since they arrived. I am a former teenage mother who dropped out of high school in Mexico and who migrated from Mexico to the U.S. illegally in the search for a better future. Today, I am a naturalized U.S. citizen who was able to qualify for the AMNESTY of 1986. Thanks to that opportunity, I was able to get out of the shadows, continue to learn English, and get an education. From being a high school drop out teenage mother with three children, I was able to claim the ladder and get a PhD at University of Pennsylvania and now I am an Assistant Professor at a Research one institution, Texas A&M University.

When I was undocumented, I had several jobs, at the beginning I used to clean houses to make a living, then I was a hostess in a restaurant, then I became a waitress, and at the end I was able to work as a receptionist in a medical office. After a while of getting the opportunity of getting a green card, I decided to continue with my education. I quitted my full time job in the medical office and I became a full time student for the next 12 years of my life. My husband became the solo breadwinner and thanks to his opportunity to get a green card through me, he was able to get a job as a banquet server so he could support the whole family for the next 12 years.

I began by attending a community college to take English as a Second Language courses so I could learn enough English to continue with my education. Then I attended the Learning Center of Long Beach City College and was able to get my High School Diploma within three months of hard work. After that I was able to transfer to University of California, Irvine where I graduated with Honors with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Sciences. I then received a four year fellowship from the Mellon Foundation to attend University of Pennsylvania and there I was able to get a Master’s Degree in Demography and a PhD in Sociology. Today I am working as an Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University. Today, besides being a first generation immigrant, I also do research about immigration and how people develop solidarity through the migratory process. I have interviewer hundreds of immigrants and I have learned nothing but their struggles and the reasons they came to America illegally.

I am sure that if it was not for the opportunity that I was given to become legal in America, there was no way I was going to be able to accomplish all the things I have been able to do so far. Things have not been easy getting an education and raising three children at the same time. Furthermore, almost at the end of my journey (one year before finishing my PhD), I found out that I had gotten pregnant with twin babies. That did not stop me from finishing a PhD and getting out in the National job market and getting a job as an Assistant Professor in Sociology. Today my husband has also become a naturalized U.S. citizen and he is getting ready to open his own Mexican restaurant now that we are all settled.

The high demand for low-skilled workers and the immigration law restrictions for low-skilled workers from Latin-America and other countries to come legally into the country has brought to America millions of undocumented immigrants who some of them have been living in the shadows for decades now. Most of these workers are hard working people, many of them professionals in their own country, who like myself one day, came to America in a search for a better future for them and their family. The opportunity of legalization for many of these immigrants could increase their opportunities for them to be successful too. I hope that the current immigration policies that are being discussed in Congress and in the Senate floor could consider the potential and the new opportunities that can come out from people who, like me, one day crossed the border illegally in search for the AMERICAN DREAM.