Mr. President, I’m a DACA recipient, please don’t use me as brick in your Wall | Opinion

By Alma Aparicio

In many ways, I am just like many young Americans you may know. I am a 20-year-old university student who has often been more concerned with balancing my studies, a part-time job, and hanging out with friends than the ideological war being waged over immigration.

I get it.

“But I am not there.” “I don’t see it.” “How does this affect my life?” Ask yourself, does that sound familiar?

In those instances, however, when I, too, have wanted to tell myself that I am not walking in immigrants’ shoes, my mother has always been there to remind me that I am.

Since I was a young girl, she would tell me, “Remember, you are not like the others.” It wasn’t until I got much older, when I was starting to chart my own future – putting my dreams into action – that I realized what she had meant.

As she would later explain to me, I was 3 years old when she made the tough decision to give us the prospects of a better life and travel from our native Puebla, Mexico, to live with my uncle in Camden.

Over the years, she would remind me that we were from Mexico, but it never registered that I wasn’t American – or at least an American citizen.

When I was a teenager, I began to apply for colleges and suddenly found myself asking what a Social Security number was and where I could find mine. “Wait, why don’t I have one?” I asked. ‘

As my mother explained how the law works, the realization was understandably tough for me to take. In one moment, I was just like my classmates: dreaming of what I wanted to be, where I would attend school, and what my life would be like. The next, I was being told that a piece of paper – or the lack of one – said I was different than my peers.

Fortunately for me, in the next breath, my mother has always been there to tell me that, although I will encounter obstacles that others won’t face, I am smart, talented, and able to succeed no matter what comes my way.

Consequently, after graduating in the top 10 percent of my class at LEAP Academy University Charter School in Camden, I enrolled at Rutgers University-Camden, where I am a rising senior English major with a double minor in Latin American studies and political science. I am also preparing for a career in law, working part-time for an immigration attorney in Philadelphia, where my bilingual skills have been helpful in communicating with clients.

By Star-Ledger Guest Columnist for
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