My name is Melissa Gonzalez Hernandez and I am #indomitable

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I’m proud to say that I was born in the beautiful state of Veracruz, Mexico. My parents moved to The U.S. in 1998 and although it sounds cliché, they moved us here to give us a better life. My brother was seven years old and I was two. My parents have always instilled in us our culture and for that I am extremely grateful. I’ve grown up in a country of dreams and opportunities but never forgetting where I come from. Had it not been for that, I wouldn’t have the attributes that I do today, which have helped me succeed. I remember the tears of joy that I shed on June 15, 2012, thinking about all the new doors that were opening for me. I was eager to start working and earning my own things. I wanted to have an income so that I could pay my own bills and be able to help my parents. I started working in January of 2013 so that I could pay my own car and start saving up for college. I graduated from Johnston County Middle College High School in 2014 with college credits in Office Administration as well as Interpretation/Translation. I then transferred to Wake Technical Community College where I began studying Business Administration. I have never been able to study full time due to the difficulty of having to pay almost three times what in-state tuition students pay, even though I have been here for 19 years. However, that’s not something that is stopping me, but instead makes me want to work ten times harder. In 2015, I started working part-time with an attorney, and continued serving at my first job while going to school. Shortly after, it was time to renew my DACA and employment authorization card, but in the process of it being mailed to my house, the last envelope that held my employment authorization card was lost. I spent weeks knocking door to door hoping that maybe it had been placed at the wrong address, knowing that the deadline for proof of valid authorization to work at my job was coming up. For me to obtain another employment authorization card, I was required to pay the total filing fee once again, and I simply could not afford it because I had just paid for my fall tuition. I spent two months going everywhere, determined that someone would still employ me, and I was able to get three jobs. I worked seven days a week and went to school three times a week. My employers worked with me so that I could go to work those three jobs from 9:00 A.M. to 11:00 P.M. and sometimes even later, on the days that I didn’t go to school. Six months later, I woke up one day and couldn’t get up because I couldn’t move. I drove myself to the hospital with my mother by my side, where they told that I had an internal cyst the size of an orange, and it had to be taken out immediately in an emergency surgery due to the excessive physical work I was putting on my body. I was on bed rest for a month, with the help of at-home nurses. I had to slow down and start from scratch after recovery. Since then, I continued working and was able to obtain a position with an amazing defense attorney. I have found what I want to do for the rest of my life, and am now in the Paralegal program at Johnston Community College where I attend evening classes. At home, I have my parents, my older brother who is also a Dreamer, my nine-year-old little brother, and my three-month-old daughter; two of those whom are citizens. I can’t imagine having to start all over in a country that I do not know. Nor could I live without my brother or my daughter because they are a part of this country and I am not. It would be unfair for us to take away the wonderful education that this country can offer them, because my parents made a mistake when they were thinking about our future and well-being. My parents have sacrificed so much for us, like coming to an unfamiliar country because they heard this was the best, and not seeing their parents and family for over two decades, almost. I plan on doing big things with my life, for myself, and for my family, but unfortunately, without DACA, I cannot.

-Melissa Gonzalez

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My name is Marco Cervantes and I am #Unstoppable #Undocumented

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“La planta del dólar también dio Flor ” This is what my mom said to me when we came home from misa. I love how simple instances like these can have a tremendous effect on someone. Her words made me think of my life and where I am now. My name is Marco Antonio Cervantes Garcia. I am 23 years old, Undocumented and Unafraid. I was born in Celaya, Guanajuato and lived the first year and a half of my life there. It was in a small town near Celaya in the 1970’s that my mom and grandmother would have to walk for hours to bring water to their families using fifteen pound jars. To this day my birth place still is in need of adequate systems and potable water.
In Chapel Hill, North Carolina I have enjoyed the privilege of having clean running water and listening to the cardinal song for almost  22 years. Growing up in North Carolina,  I thought I was just like the friends I made in school except my family ate different food, danced to different music, and had different conversations. Instead of talking about what college we plan to go to or what major we plan to study we would talk about not being able to work because it was muddy or who got arrested for driving without a license. These conversations helped bring context to who I was.
I went through my life trying to hide all facts of me being from another country. I wanted to fit in. I remember saying the Pledge of Allegiance, celebrating the 4th of July, and telling people that I was from California or Texas. These desires to appease my peers faded when I entered high school. It was there that I found more  clues into my identity. I could finally understand why there were only specs of people like me and why my parents clenched at the sight of red and blue lights. A time of great uncertainty for me came after graduating high school. In school, my grades weren’t spotless but I did aspire to go to college and uncover my hidden talents. During this time I had an impactful encounter with what Undocumented was to me. I lacked the will to pursue a college education due to scarce information about options and models to follow. Now I want to set my own mold and goals. I will become a Water Resource Engineer and work with communities to make sure they are able to receive clean water. Being a DACA holder made me more confident in my dreams to become an engineer. Now, I am back to the same uncertainty I was in high school.
-Marco Cervantes

Does Lobbying Make a Difference? Short answer- Yes.

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A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of going to DC with FWD.us to lobby for the Dream Act.  I’d learned about lobbying in school, like everyone else, but didn’t really understand the power it has and I don’t think many people do either.  Not long before this trip I had someone say to me “why bother? Why would these congress members even bother listening to us? Who are we for them to listen to us?”.  This didn’t discourage me from going, but this kind of thinking is one of the many reasons I made the effort to be present for this trip.

It seems intimidating and scary to speak to Representatives, Senators, and their staff; but it’s amazing how that fear goes out the window when you start telling your story, because that’s just what we did.  We told them how of the struggles we have faced and undocumented youth, how we fight to overcome our obstacles, and the many reasons why we are thankful to be in country and all the things we want to do to give back.

But it wasn’t the fact that they squeezed us into their busy schedule which made me believe in lobbying, it was something one of the staffers said.  I was sitting in the office of Representative Robert Pittenger, speaking to one of this staffers(whose name I unfortunately can’t remember).  He listened to our stories with interest, answered our questions, and ended the conversation with this:
He said he was glad we were there and he got to hear from us.  He told us that the only people they constantly got approached by on the issue of Dreamers, were pastors and church groups.  He told us that it made a huge difference to hear the voices and see the faces of the people who are directly affected, that we gave him a better understanding of the issue and our concerns.

Believe it or not, the people in Congress don’t know everything.  It’s for this reason(and many more) that we have to lobby, and let our voices be heard.  If we don’t speak to these people and voice our concerns, how will they really know how we are affected? How will they know about the contributions we have made in this country and the sacrifices we are willing to make for the place we call home? Are we really going to sit back and let them pass legislations that will affect us without them knowing who we are and what we want?

Lobbying matters because we are the only ones who can truly give a voice to the problem we are facing and will continue to face now that DACA is gone.  Just like pastors and churches, there are many other groups and allies that have spoken for us, and although it is appreciated, the point comes across much clearer when it is those affected who speak up.

So why bother lobbying? Because our futures are at stake. Why would these congress members bother speaking to us? Because we live here, we grew up here, we work here, and we contribute here. Who are we for them to listen to us? We are PEOPLE.  We matter. Our stories matter. Our future and our families matter.  We are are resilient.  We are strong. We are Americans, maybe not on paper, but at heart and by the work we have put into being contributing members of our communities.

Lobby not just for yourself, but for those radicals that came before us.  The ones who rallied tirelessly, blocked the streets, and were the first to shout UNDOCUMENTED AND UNAFRAID. Without them, all of this maybe wouldn’t be possible. So take the opportunities you are given to lobby, speak, and fight for the cause.

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NC DREAMERS TRAVEL TO WASHINGTON, DC TO LOBBY FOR LEGISLATION

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 18th, 2017

                   Contact:

ncdreamcoalition@gmail.com

NC DREAMERS TRAVEL TO WASHINGTON, DC TO LOBBY FOR LEGISLATION

Raleigh, NC. – The NC Dream Coalition will be hosting an advocacy day of action for Dreamers across the state of North Carolina. On October 19, 2017, DACA youth from North Carolina will be traveling to Washington D.C. to push for legislation that would provide a pathway to legalization for undocumented youth! The youth will be sharing their stories with Congress and urging them to pass legislation that protects all undocumented youth. The bus will leave early in the morning on October 19th and will be returning to North Carolina very early in the morning of the 20th.

NC Dreamers’ Advocacy Day
Thursday, October 19th, 2017
Location: Washington, DC–Congress

Background:

On September 5th, 2017 the Trump Administration announced the rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama era program that essentially deferred the deportation of undocumented youth who were brought to the United States as children and provided them with a work permit and a chance to live a better life. The program is set to expire on March 5th, 2018 leaving about 800,000 DACA youth unprotected and subject to deportation.

DACA youth are students, lawyers, business owners, engineers, nurses, and hard-working parents that call NC home: “We have lived in North Carolina since we were children, have gone through the public school system, have paid and continue to pay our taxes and pursue the American Dream by going to college, we are Americans and we want to serve our nation,” said Jose Rico, a DACA beneficiary and organizer with the NC Dream Coalition.

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I am Alejandra Escobar Lopez and I am #Determined #Undocumented

At the young age of 3 years old, my mother left me in the capable hands of my grandmother so she could start making a life for me here in the states. I never really understood the sacrifice that it was for her to leave her only daughter and go alone to a country that she knew nothing about. That is until now, that I am an adult and understand her circumstances more than she knows. She came here on her own and made sure she had everything that I could ever need to start a life here. Things like a home, a stable job for herself, transportation, and even clothes. Not even a year later she sent for me at 4 years old. I came here with no knowledge of what to except for the one word of english that I did know and, that was “hello”.

When I arrived I was still dazed by the trip I had just embarked. All that uncertainty faded away when I finally saw my mother for the first time in months. All it took was a few seconds to brought it back because she didn’t recognize me until I was wrapped around her and holding her tight. She cried because of the joy of knowing that we were reunited and cried because it had been so long that she could barely recognize her own daughter. It was in that moment that I knew I was in for a long ride here in this new world that was completely foreign to me.

After only a few weeks of being in the United State, I had start school. This might be unthinkable for some but for that little girl that had her world flipped, it was a piece of cake. Even though I still didn’t know the language or customs of this country, I was determined to make my mom’s sacrifices worthwhile. My mom had a friend at work that volunteered to help me learn English and I will never be able to repay her for what she did for me. I mastered the English language in 3 short months, because of my age.

Later in elementary school, I remember being bullied because of my accent.  I took it upon myself to talk and pronounce every word perfectly. When that was accomplished they stopped but only to start again in middle school because I wasn’t the best student in English or Social Studies because I didn’t understand it as well as others. When I noticed the mocking I studied longer and practiced harder so I would be able to pass with good grades all around but that didn’t happen until  high school. When I was finally on the A B honor roll, the mocking started again. This time it was because I was too smart and my fellow hispanic classmates teased me saying things like “you act like a stuck up! Why are you in the smart people classes?” or “you’re a wannabe white person” all because I was in honor classes or in AP classes. That kind of mocking didn’t bother me so much because by that time I had stopped caring what others thought of me. All I cared about was making my mom proud. I graduated with honors and that is something that no one can take away from me.

Around the start of my senior year the DACA program was introduced and I was able to obtain my driving license while in high school and finally fit in as a normal teenager. I was able to get a job to start saving for college and the world didn’t seem so foreign anymore. I felt like I was finally being accepted by the society that raised me and honestly ,the only one I could remember.

Despite all the obstacles that I faced, I became the person that I wanted to be. That person was someone that my mom could be proud of. I started attending Durham Technical Community College and obtained my CNA certificate. I am still in school because goal is to be a nurse. Without DACA I would have never gotten to where I am today and unfortunately I have no idea if this door will be open much longer but I will not stop until I reach my goals.

-Alejandra Escobar Lopez

My Name Is Rubi Franco Quiroz I am #Undocumented and #Unapologetic

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When I was 5, my mom got pregnant with my younger sister. This meant she wasn’t going to be able to work anymore. My dad knew his income alone would not suffice for our family, so he unsuccessfully tried to find a new job. The situation in my Mexican hometown was getting worse by the day, and with heavy drug cartel violence, my parents found that coming to the United States would give them a lot more opportunities and help us live better lives. Our family filed for a visa multiple times; all attempts in vain as they were consistently rejected.

Four months after my mom gave birth to my sister, my parents put their lives at risk for the safety of my siblings and my own safety. When crossing to the United States, we were separated from my mom. I was only five years old, taking care of a four-month year old baby girl and a three-year-old boy. We were terribly mistreated in my mom’s absence, but my parents pain was far worse. I know and am fully aware of everything my parents had to endure to get us here. I don’t want all their struggles to go in vain. Being undocumented has greatly impacted my life, I have faced and continue to face many difficulties that no one understands. Growing up I lived with the fear of having to wake up every day not knowing whether I would be able to see my mother and father again. My parents, siblings and I only have each other here, and I know there is always a chance of us being separated.

My (s)heroes left all they had, and took such risks so that their children could have a future. After being here for so long, I have learned that many don’t understand what taking such a risk or sacrificing it all for your family looks like. My family is the reason I wake up every day and push myself to do my very best. One day, I will be successful and support my parents just like they have supported me all these years. They are my greatest motivation. Today I am 21 years old and getting ready to graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill, one of the best universities in the nation. Through all the hardships I worked myself to exhaustion with the hope of being able to attain a scholarship to attend college. I will be applying to the school of Social Work in December with the dream of becoming a medical social worker in order to be able to provide families of lower income with better access to healthcare. I want to achieve all this and more not only for myself, but also for the two greatest human beings in my life, my parents.

-Rubi Franco Quiroz

My Name is Miriam Amado-Lopez and I am #Resilient

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When someone asks me where I was born I am never hesitant to say Cuidad de Mexico. Then they ask what I miss from Mexico or what it was like to live there but I can never give them an answer because I have no recollection of living in that beautiful country. I arrived into the United States when I was 2 ½ years old with my parents. They settled in North Carolina and it has been my home since. Today I am nineteen years old and am a few months away from a bachelor’s degree. All my life my parents have instilled in me the value of education. They always told me that they wanted my siblings and I to have a better life than they did. I have made it a mission for not only myself but for them to do just that. I graduated in 2015 from Johnston County Middle College High School with my high school diploma, a Spanish-Interpreting Certificate from Johnston Community College and various college credit hours. In 2016, I received my first degree which was an Associate in Science. In May of 2018 I will have a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration in Healthcare Management from the University of Mount Olive. I have always had a passion for the health care field but wanted to be on the administrative side of it. I can’t do bodily fluids, I learned that from a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) class I took in the Summer of 2016. I plan to pursue a Master in Public Health degree after undergraduate studies. I want to dedicate my career to the vulnerable and underserved on the health care spectrum. On top of school I have had a job since I received Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA) at the age of 15. I am also an older sister to two U.S. citizens. They look up to me and rely on me for certain things such as transportation to and from school, being their shoulder to cry on and their listening ear. I do not think that they would be able to imagine a life without me and I definitely cannot imagine my life without them. I know that I am valuable and an asset for this country. This is where I want to continue to build my life. I want to buy a home, buy a car, raise a family and more. This is my country as it is anyone else’s.

-Miriam Amado-Lopez