We’ve been publishing a series of posts from the DREAMers of the Campaign for an American DREAM. In March, they set off from San Francisco to begin a 3,000-mile, 8-month walk to Washington, DC to call attention to the DREAM Act and the need for immigration reform.
Today’s post is from Jose Sandoval, who was inspired by the CAD Walk to come out of the shadows and recently rejoined the walk after finishing his freshman year at UC Berkeley.
Coming out of the shadows was the best thing that ever happened to me. It encouraged me to fight harder for the rights of undocumented students. There were a number of reasons I stayed “in the shadows.” One was the negativity in the media toward undocumented immigrants, which made me think that the majority of people would not accept me for who I was no matter what it was that I was going through. It was also terrifying because I didn’t know what to expect from the student population at University of California, Berkeley, where I am a student. In spite of this, I shared my story and to my surprise, everyone was accepting. My peers were able to see that I was doing a lot for the community, even with my undocumented status. It was also touching that my fraternity brothers were supportive of who I am, and were interested in learning more about what I was going through.
By the end of my freshman year, I had opened myself to the community and allowed everyone to see me for who I am: an undocumented student. This also meant conquering other fears.
My next goal was to conquer my fear of flying and risk deportation. I came to the conclusion that I could be deported at any moment anyway, despite the fact that I’ve kept a clean record. The more I thought about it, the less afraid I was. I’m not a murderer or a robber. I am simply a student who is providing for my community, while trying to achieve my goal of becoming a doctor. Therefore, I decided to fly to Los Angeles to visit my mom.
My mom has always stopped me from attending many conferences and meetings because of her real fear that I could get deported. So, I hopped on the plane one Tuesday morning and as soon as I arrived to LA, I told her “ama me vine en el avion,” which translates to “Mom I took the plane.”
She was worried and a little angry. But soon, she accepted and admired what I was doing. After all, that was nothing to compared to when I told her I was joining the Campaign for an American DREAM, which to her meant that I was risking my future. She wanted me to finish UC Berkeley and wait until there was a possibility for me to get citizenship.
But I can’t keep waiting. I am thinking about the future and realizing that if the DREAM Act does not pass in four years, I will be in the same place I am today. With families being separated, I knew that I couldn’t stand by and just wait for the DREAM Act — I wasn’t going to wait to see my family ripped apart. Asn an adult, I’m ready to fight for all those families who cannot fight for themselves — who see their families being separated because of their undocumented status. I explained to my mom how I was ready to make a difference because I could be one of the voices that ENDS the separation of undocumented families and the struggles of all those hardworking undocumented students. If I don’t step up now, how will my voice be heard?
That was how my journey started. Now, I’m here in Utah encouraging other undocumented students to stand up, speak out, and fight for their right to remain in the country they called home. I am Jose Sandoval and I am Undocumented, Unafraid, and tired of letting others decide my future and the future of my fellow DREAMers.