For many Americans, immigration is just another news topic. For me, immigration shaped who I am as a person—it is what I am most passionate about.
When I was 8 years old, I moved to California with my family following the Financial Crisis in East Asia. I adjusted quickly, and after a couple of years, no one could tell the difference between me and my American classmates. For some reason, though, I always felt out of place and I never knew why until recently.
When I was 17 and applying to college, my parents told me that I was an undocumented resident. Finally, I knew why I wasn’t allowed to get my driver's license. We originally came to the United States on tourist visas, and while waiting for our application for permanent residency to go through, our visas expired and our sponsor passed away. My entire identity was challenged. All of a sudden, I couldn’t relate to my friends anymore.
Fortunately, through California AB 540, I was able to get in-state tuition to UC San Diego. My parents struggled to pay for my college tuition because, as undocumented residents, we did not qualify for financial aid. I wanted to get a job of my own and help contribute to the cost of tuition, but I had to turn down job after job because I was undocumented.
We did eventually receive great news. In 2009, President Obama signed legislation to aid families in our situation. Originally my family was unable to re-apply for citizenship because our sponsor had died. President Obama removed that barrier to citizenship.
Because of this new legislation, our application went through with lightning speed and I finally got the little piece of plastic that meant the world to me – my green card. With it, I not only receive legal benefits, but I get my identity back.
Getting my green card has made me the person I am today. I am a successful senior in college who has a passion for helping people who struggling with immigration. I know our country needs President Obama—he supports the DREAM Act and is trying to help innocent students who have unlimited potential.
Even though I can't vote yet, I am doing my part to ensure that deserving students are able to get to their happy ending, like I did.Help me help the President by signing up to volunteer today.