I'm a 33-year-old soon-to-be mother of two. It wasn't until 2.5 years ago that I became a documented and legal immigrant. I came here to the US when I was 4.5 years old on a tourist visa with my family and like most, overstayed.
I was salutatorian of my high school. I delivered a speech to my graduating class. I received high honors and always thrived in a learning institution. I was accepted to a UC school. But there were always little things. I couldn't drive like the rest of my teenage friends. I couldn't go on special school trips for those who achieved high grades because I didn't have a passport. I couldn't celebrate my 21st birthday with my friends. I couldn't even check out more than one book from a public library because I didn't have the proper identification to show my age. All the little things that don't seem to matter add up and can take a toll.
For 27 years I was undocumented. I went to school and college. I worked and worked hard for barely minimum wage.
Most people who meet me would be surprised to learn that I wasn't born here and that in fact I was undocumented for most of my life here in the US.
submitted to Define American on June 28, 2011 at 16:38
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.