This is a continuation of my original post Freedom of Dependency: The Reality of Being Undocumented
For the past 18 years of my life I have been the “other.” The kid that, according to society, did not belong in this country. The kid whose mom trembled when she saw a badge on a mall cop, because to her knowledge, they would deport us. The kid who should “go back to his country” and find a new way to his dream. The kid who would learn the hard way what being undocumented really meant.
The things is, being undocumented means a lot of things. It means being dependent on a support system. It means having to create your own path. It means being scared while also being brave. But even with all of this, I would never go back in my history and alter the fact that I am undocumented, just as I wouldn’t change being Latino or gay; It is a part of my identity and has shaped who I have become, but it has also been the most challenging aspect of who I am.
I know that my story is unlike many others. I know that I am privileged in coming here with a Visa. I know that I am privileged to have a support system that has assisted me to my current state. And I also know I am privileged in being the ONLY undocumented person in my family, because my decision to speak out about my truth came with only ONE consequence, myself being deported. I didn’t have to worry that me sharing my story meant ICE coming after my mom, my sister, my brother, or my nieces. I knew that sharing my story was going to be my therapy and my solution. And it’s been my solution for a long time. That is why I am here today to share another part of my journey into residency in the country I have called home for more than 18 years.
After graduating in May I was given the opportunity to meet with a lawyer who has since helped me put together the forms that I will be sending to immigration. This alone has been a privilege in itself because I haven’t had to pay for these services. However, after months of compiling evidence that my husband and I are truly married, that I am worth taking a chance on, and that I, like 11 million other undocumented people in this country, deserve the right to citizenship, I am stuck because I do not have the money.
To put it into perspective for those of you that do not know my story, I have been in this country since the age of 5, graduated top of my class at every school I ever attended, and I have dedicated my life to helping youth realize the power they hold in our political world. But this doesn’t seem to be enough because on top of having to go through an extensive process in proving my worth not only as a citizen, but as a HUMAN, I am also asked to pay exuberant fees for the right to apply.
This is where the irony comes in — If I could have filed my papers earlier, I would be documented. Being documented means I can work legally and get paid and in turn pay for all of this. But no, instead this system is set up in such a way that those who can apply are those with money. Just so you all get an idea of the fees I will be paying, here is the breakdown:
$380 Employment Authorization Document
$420 I-130 Petition for Alien Relative
$985 I-485 Application to Register Permanent Resident
Now lets be clear, I am not against there being fees. I understand that money has a role to play in all of this and in helping pay for the people who process these files. However, do you know what $1,870 means for a family like mine? Or an individual like me? I have been homeless twice in my life, and just the thought of a nearly $2,000 is amazing to me. What really gets me going with all of this though is the thought that there are millions of families out there that would LOVE to file a petition but are unable to because of these fees or even worse, because they can’t pay for the legal representation to get the petition started.
I am sharing this all with you because I want you all to really understand the process and the many ways in which it limits people and corners them into inaction. I am also sharing this with you all because I am in desperate need of YOUR help. I AM UNDOCUMENTED and I don’t have the means by which to pay for this. I met with my lawyer last week and I am set to turn my paperwork in, but of course none of this can go through until I pay up. That is why I am humbly asking you for your support. Any size donation will help me reach my goal and will also ensure that I am able to turn in my petition and for the first time ever, become a resident of this country!
To donate and learn more about my story check out: GoFundMe.com/NYCDreamChasing