I have a very similar story to Jose's, having arrived here October 1989 with my family using a coyote-provided passport. I grew up living a suburban Westchester County, NY lifestyle until the age of 16, where I too came to the realization of what I could and could not do as an illegal resident of the United States. I live a life I describe as mime-like, with invisible walls seen only by me constantly surrounding and blocking my way.
I did well in high school, graduating with a Regents Diploma with High Honors. I went on to a CUNY college, paying out of pocket and earning a BA in Business Journalism. Upon earning my degree, I opted not to take a job at a PR firm I had been interning at because I was sure I couldn't.
Flash forward 5 years and I find myself a 27 year old who's been sitting on the sidelines while his life has been passing him by. I'd like to "come out" as an illegal, but due to concern for my siblings, I choose not to. I am contemplating moving back to Portugal, the land of my birth, the land I emigrated from at the age of 5, the land I don't know, because the opportunity to apply for a real job and live a real life is better than the second class situation I have experienced over the past two decades.
submitted to Define American on July 6, 2011 at 16:45
We hope to share more stories that "define American" and beg critical questions about the state of immigration in our country. Submit your story here. Names are changed to maintain anonymity.