Yessica is one of the many faces who will benefit from the change in the immigration law passed by the Obama Administration. When most people think of the population that the change was made for, they do not imagine that is people like Yessica, who feel her dreams are starting to come true.
She, like those who qualify for this work permit came here as a child. Yessica was age 8 and she came with her parents and siblings by no fault of her own. This choice was made for her. She has spent her life making the most of it. Studying, working and keeping hope that some day her legal status could be adjusted. Just like other kids her age, she has dreams of going to college and travel and forming a career and life here in the USA. This is easier said than done, for young people in her situation. That is until now, the hope and glimmer of possibilities has her all smiles.
She is just like any other young American raised young lady, now age 21. The only difference is that she has faced barriers far beyond those the average young adults have to face in mainstream USA. The choice made by her parents to bring her and her siblings here in search of a better life. A choice made by so many and the reason why is rather simple. Like most immigrants the promise of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Many of us born here could not imagine what it can feel like to be in Yessica’s shoes.
A short interview with this intelligent and witty young lady, might make you rethink your stance on immigration or at least open your mind to the possibility of a better solution to this controversial issue.
Yessica shares her story in this edition of CNY Latino in hopes of creating awareness and to dismiss certain myths regarding the people whom this immigration change will benefit.
Yessica shared with me that she was born in Mexico City and her father had to leave her, mother and sisters to come to America; determined to find a job hoping to provide them with more than just the bare necessities. Her father wanted more for his family. He wanted a stable home, education and to give them a secure future. He wanted the American Dream. At that time Yessica would have rather have her dad home for holidays and school activities. She was taught family first and staying together is key to family unity. A year later her father told them that they would be making a trip to join him in the land of opportunities. Shortly after that she found herself trying to fit in, adapt to an entire new life style. From that day forward her and her siblings began life here and with the knowledge that they may some day be asked to leave, they still studied and worked and dreamed that some day this would change and they could stay here legally.
This young lady intends to make the most of this recent change in policy made by President Obama. She is currently a college student working on an International Business and Accounting degree. She will go into the world and use her degree. This is the part that most might not realize that without this new policy Yessica could not use her degree. As it stood she would not be allowed to work at her profession without a social security number and a work permit, regardless of what a good student she is or how hard she worked. Ask yourself, how many young adults you know that would still go to college with the knowledge that they may not be able to use the degree they are working towards. She can hardly believe that this is even happening and expressed how overjoyed she and her family are with the news. With the help of Law offices Akhilesh Krishna she received aid in gather all the documents to file for the work permit and show her qualifications to obtain this work permit and hence ultimately get the work permit and social security number required to become a part of the work force legally in the USA. With the guidance of this law firm she is on her way to reaching her long term goals and aspirations.
I myself reviewed the requirements with Yessica over the phone and one question at a time she replied yes. She cried with joy and rushed off to tell her parents and everyone else she knew that she might be able to apply. I remember asking her, as I have many, since that first call with Yessica the following questions: Did you come here as a child under the age of 15?. She replied, yes. Have you been studying or completed your studies and or have a GED?. She replied, I am currently in college. Have you been here 5 years or more?. Again she said, yes and last but not least, are you under the age of thirty?. She said yes I am 21. I replied, “Well it would appear from your reply that you are exactly the person this change in immigration policy was made for”, I said. “Congratulation” and she was so happy I could hear she was crying. I asked if she wanted the help from the attorneys at Akhilesh Krishna and she said yes. Yessica was on her way to what she referred to as “the best day of her life ever.”
During my conversation with her she shared that she comes from a large family. Families big or small are always a blessing and hence she is further blessed to be one of a family of six, three sister and herself, plus parents. She asked if her little sister would qualify and we reviewed the questions and again I said yes to her. I could not help but feel excited and happy for this young lady that I had never met. She was so polite, well spoken and thanked me for everything again and again.
Her parents were ecstatic when they received the news and she expressed they were over joy and with tears in their eyes with the news that her sister and her were going to be given the opportunity to carry out the American Dream. That she and her sister might some day own a home, open a business, get and use their degrees, and that all the sacrifices over the years were worth it. A dream come true and a step closer to the Dream Act.
Yessica hopes that some day all will be treated equally. “This country does not belong to anyone one group of people but rather that we are all immigrants unless we are American Indians and hence should be treated with dignity and respect and not as criminals.” With conviction in her words she declares “Those who flee their native land don’t want anything other than to have a better life… to realize the American Dream and we should all be allowed the opportunity to do this.
I asked Yessica about challenges she faced as an undocumented immigrant in the USA and she was happy to say that as a kid it was not so bad. Once she became school age she began to realize how different she really was and by high school she felt discouraged but never once gave up hope. It was hard for her to think of college without thinking how pointless it would all be if she could not work in her chosen career. Still she thanks her parents for bringing her here. If it were not for her parents, she would not be the women she is today. They have taught her how to appreciate what she has and does not have also. Her Parents are the reason why she never ever gave up on her dreams.
On a topic often avoided by most, I asked Yessica how she would feel if she suddenly had to leave the USA. She could not even possibly imagine that. Most of her life is here. Life in Mexico is frightening to her because this is her home and she is accustomed to this lifestyle. Relocating to a new country, new faces, accepted behaviors would not be just a change, it would be devastation for her. This is her home; she is in her heart an American.
I ask you now the reader, to imagine if your entire family and you had to suddenly go back to Italy, Poland, Portugal, Japan, India, Greece, Jamaica, France, Spain, Mexico, Guatemala, Africa, or China. What if we were all made to go to our so called home lands?. What would that be like for you?. That is what is happening with people like Yessica and it is simply an injustice.
A young lady like Yessica that graduated with honors in 2009, was president of the Academy of Finance and vice president of future business leaders of America. She would be an asset to our country. She is not in anyway a burden to our society or here to take jobs from real American as many firmly believe. She believes that with hard work and hope in her heart, she will make a difference in her life and in the life of others just like her. I see in Yessica a future leader, her enthusiasm is contagious and her energy electric. We should all feel lucky to have such passionate people in our country. I can not imagine a better way to make this nation grow stronger than to keep the doors open to such productive individuals like Yessica and the many others just like her.
I asked her one last question and that was, what would she say to reader of this article in closing and she said “When someone tells you, you can’t’ do something, turn around and say, watch me-because only you can limit your potential. Hard work and perseverance is the key to being successful. If you’re going to doubt something, doubt your limits.”
Powerful insight for such a young adult, I quote David La Chapelle; “For thousands of years, sailors have used the stars to help establish their position here on earth. We all need a similar series of inner reference points to help guide us through the waves of change which are appearing on the ocean of our times.” If you are just like Yessica, ride the wave and let Law Offices Akilesh Krishna, help you establish your position/status here in the United States like many many immigrants have done before you. Call me, Ada Heitman to see if you qualify today at 732-889-4399. If you were born with the privilege of being an American Citizen it is a known truth that you were afforded the opportunity to take your journey without the same challenges and remember that if you stray from this opportunity too far you pass up on all this great land has to offer. Immigrants do not take this from you. Only you can find your own happiness, careers and jobs.
Author: Ada L. Heitman Migrant Advocate and Legal Interpreter for the Law Offices of Akhilesh Krishna