Maria is a BPNC youth leader and a member of Connecting Families, Safer Through Unity Program. On Saturday, December 2, Maria shared her story to Senator Dick Durbin. Learn more about our immigration work today.
Good morning, my name is Maria Marquez.
I am a leader with BPNC. Today I will share with you a little bit of my personal story and why we can’t wait any more to pass a clean DREAM Act.
I was born in Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco, Mexico and lived in a little rancho called Tlacuitapa for the first two years of my life where I lived with my mom and my grandparents.
I arrived to the United States at the age of two with my mother and my uncle. My dad had come to the United States a year before so we arrived with him here in Chicago. We crossed the river, and I vividly remember my uncle carrying me on his shoulders so that I’d be able to cross. I remember my mom was a in front of us and I was just looking at her. I remember the water was really deep and dark but calm because there was no current and because the sun was shining.
We arrived in Chicago after a couple days of travel. I finally saw my dad after thinking that I didn’t have one. My parents decided to come to the United States because they had a child, me, who depended on them. They knew from their own experiences that it would be very difficult for me to succeed there, but there weren’t any opportunities available for me in Mexico.
All they wanted was for their child to have the opportunities they didn’t get. My parents wanted me to have the chance to go to school and live a happy and successful life.
I began kindergarten. I was learning English through the cartoons that I would watch. But I was never aware of my immigration status. I knew I was born in Mexico but I didn’t know to what extent it would put barriers in my future.
As I got older, I began grasping the concept that I can’t leave the United States. I can’t visit my family. It didn’t hit me how much a piece of paper saying my place of birth would have the power to define my future and revoke many opportunities.
It wasn’t until my junior of high school when I was applying to colleges with so much excitement that my reality hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized college began to be a much more difficult dream to come true than I ever thought. Paying tuition without scholarships was not going to be possible. Even when I applied to scholarships, the few that were available were so competitive that I would get close to getting them but didn’t quite get them.
When I was old enough to get DACA, I was so excited to know that I could work and as soon as I graduate with my college degree I would work in my dream job. That happiness abruptly, but not surprisingly, was ended by the Trump administration.
If Congress doesn’t step up to work together in the benefit of millions of people like me, then our hope will be ripped away from us. It’s a horrible feeling knowing that my family, my family’s friends, my people can be ripped apart in a matter of minutes by heartless human beings.
I know for a fact that if a clean DREAM Act is not decided this year or the very start of 2018, then our situation will not get better. It will get worse. So many people like me depend on this to thrive and succeed in the country we call home.
I would like to thank you, Senator Durbin, for all the work that you have done to introduce and reintroduce the DREAM Act. I am here today to ask you to please continue to fight for the a clean DREAM Act, thousand of undocumented youth like me depend on you and on the DREAM Act to continue our life in this country, because this country is all I know ever since I can remember.