One young DREAMer's Story
My name is Karen Velasquez. I am 15 years old. I came to the United States when I was 12 years old. To get to the US, I had to do the journey North 3 times, until I finally made it. In the first two attempts, I travelled with strangers that were like me trying to make it to the US.
When I grow up, I want to be a news reporter. But what I really want to do is to become a soap opera actress. I have good grades at school. I got a 3.4 GPA on my last report card. My favorite subjects are Spanish and Math.
When I watched President Barack Obama announce that young people like me were going to get work permits, I felt happy. I was happy because currently there are many Latino students like me who are undocumented. We had waited for this so that we can go to school and work without any problems or fear.
When I was about 8, my mother decided to leave our country El Salvador and come to the United States. She did this sacrifice for me so that I had everything I needed, but what I needed the most I didn’t have and that was her company.
At the beginning I was excited because she was going to be in the US and that meant I was going to have all I need, but as time went by I began to miss my mother a lot and I was afraid something was going to happen to her. When the news arrived that she had made it to the US, I was relieved, but I was also sad because that meant I was not going to see her for a long, long time.
I began living with my extended family, with aunts and uncles who didn’t treat me right. They hit me and made me do all the house chores. Even though my mother was sending money for my support, they didn’t take care of me.
This is why my mother decided to bring me to the US with her. I was never asked if I wanted to come. I wasn’t asked to whether I agreed with this decision or not. I was told to get ready because my trip to join my mother was going to happen within a week from her decision. I was happy to join her, but sad to leave behind friends and family. Little did I know that I was about to experience dangerous, disturbing and traumatizing things.
In my first attempt to cross to the US (I remember the date December 23rd, 2008), we walked for six days in the desert. In the third day, we ran out of food and water. We drank water from puddles and ate cactus to survive.
We were 45 minutes away from crossing when the US border patrol got us. They sent us to Mexico.
After a week, we tried crossing again. Once more, after walking for two days, the border patrol got us and threw us back to Mexico. This time, things got complicated because the Mexican immigration service discovered I wasn’t Mexican and I was put in a detention center. I was so dehydrated that I fainted, so they decided to deport me all the way to El Salvador.
I went back to live with relatives that didn’t want me. So after 5 months of being back in El Salvador, my mother pleaded with me for me to try to cross the border again. This time around my uncle was going to travel with me since the first attempts I had done traveling with strangers.
We finally made it and this third time, I didn’t have to walk for days. We only walked 10 hours and we made it to Houston, Texas. I stayed there for a week with my godmother and then travelled to Los Angeles where my stepfather was waiting for me to pick me up and bring me to be with my mother in Oakland.
When I first got reunited with mother, I had so many emotions. I couldn’t believe I had made it after going through so much. All was possible thanks to God, my stepfather Julio and my mother. Without them, my coming to this country wouldn’t have happened. Reuniting with my mother was one of the most important days in my life. What I have lived as an immigrant has marked my life. I like the saying “it doesn’t matter how many times you fall, what matters is how many times you get back on your feet.”
Now, more DREAMers like me will have a little help to stay on their feet.
Feb 22, 2013
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