What are you most proud of? - Define American

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What are you most proud of?

My sons Issac and Felipe are my pride and joy. My wife and I go to church with them every Sunday and we spend our free time …

Diosdado Family at the Statue of LibertyMy sons Issac and Felipe are my pride and joy. My wife and I go to church with them every Sunday and we spend our free time at the movies or enjoying a walk through downtown Chicago. We also take road trips, one of which brought us to New York City, where we visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

I brought them there because I wanted them to see the most important American monument in person. The Statue of Liberty is the icon of freedom and a historic welcoming signal to immigrants.

Chicago is my home. It's been that way for the past 17 years. I'm a maintenance worker at a residential building and a member of SEIU Local 1. I'm kind of living the American dream. I say "kind of" because my undocumented status has prevented me from pursuing better job opportunities. I had the chance to become an assistant engineer at my building, but declined the offer because I'm scared of losing the job if my bosses discover that I'm undocumented. 

When I was young, I saw America as a country of opportunity, comprised of good people who help each other. I was 18 when I arrived from Morelia, Mexico in 1997. I'm the eldest of my siblings and my parents needed me to help raise my brothers. Conditions in Mexico were terrible. My family did not have enough money to survive on their own — definitely not enough to bring food to the table.

My family arranged for me to be brought to America by a coyote (a smuggler). By working in America, I was able to send money back home to support my parents and siblings.

Recently, I tried to apply for a Temporary Visitors Driver's License (TVDL) which I am eligible for as a resident of Illinois. Because of an error at the Secretary of State's office, I was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). I was detained in a county jail for one month, separated from my family, and although I was released, I continue to fight my deportation. SEIU Local 1 and Secretary of State Jesse White have written to ICE to advocate for a stay of deportation and deferred action.

I am a hard working family man. I pay taxes. I support my local community and do everything in my power to provide for my wife and children. Aren't immigrants like me important to America? If I could only do the things that those who are citizens sometimes take for granted — vote and drive with a license — I would be able to live out of the shadows.

My sons Issac and Felipe are part of the roughly 4.5 million native-born US citizen children that have at least one undocumented parent1 and part of the almost 90% of US citizen children in Chicago with immigrant parents.2

If I am sent back to Mexico, a land I no longer know anything about, who will be there to support my family?

I am one of the 11 million undocumented Americans in this country.  

President Obama, what do you want to do with us?

#1of11Million – Join the campaign.

Felipe Jesus Diosdado, Age 35
Attorney: Mony Ruiz Velasco, Law Offices of Mony Ruiz-Velasco)
Arrived in 1997 from Morelia, Mexico (17 yrs. in US)
Currently lives in Chicago, Illinois

1 Legalize Who?: A Portrait of the 11 Million Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States, Immigration Policy Center
2 Immigration by State, New Americans in Illinois, Immigration Policy Center


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