I am a Citizen, but I am not any different than Dreamers.

            Julissa Arce is the author of the upcoming young adult adaptation of her memoir, “Someone Like Me." She is a writer, speaker and social justice advocate, and the co-founder and chairman of the Ascend Educational Fund, a college scholarship and mentorship program for immigrant students.

            While Trump voters demand that undocumented immigrants “do it the right way,” and get in the “back of the line” to become American citizens, the GOP-led Congress has failed to act to give dreamers a permanent solution towards citizenship. Several unsuccessful attempts have been made to pass legislation that would create a “line” for Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children through no choice of their own. Instead, Dreamers have watched their lives play out in a maze of court decisions since the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, program was terminated by President Trump on September 5, 2017. Today, Judge Andrew Hanen, a well-known anti-immigrant extremist, heard arguments from ten states to decide if DACA was unconstitutional. He did not rule, and now Dreamers have another court date to keep them up at night.

            I am not very different from the DACA recipients who may find themselves at risk of deportation if the judges issue unfavorable rulings in the various lawsuits making their way through the courts. I came to the U.S when I was 11 years old from Mexico to be reunited with my parents and after my tourist visa expired in 1998, I became undocumented. I didn’t have a choice in the matter, but I thank my parents for making the decision to bring me to America. As DACA recipients nervously wait for one more court decision to potentially decide their future, I am celebrating the 4th year anniversary of my naturalization ceremony. But I am not more deserving than any of them to be an American citizen.

I am not more deserving than any DREAMer to be an American citizen.

 For more than a decade I watched as my life was decided my Washington politicians. My hopes were high the first time the DREAM Act was introduced in 2001, seventeen years ago. If passed, the bill would have given me, and hundreds of thousands more, a path to citizenship. But the bill failed. It failed again in various forms in 2003, 2007, 2010, and 2011. I wasn’t undocumented for more than a decade because I refused to get in the line, I remained undocumented because each time the bill was unsuccessful, it failed to create a line for people like me. 

            In the same way, Dreamers, those who have DACA, those who were not eligible for the program, or aged in after the termination of the program, remain undocumented because we have failed them. President Trump failed them when he ended a program that was widely successful, giving more than 800,000 people the opportunity to thrive in America. Congress has failed dreamers each time they have let politics get in the way of common sense immigration reform. And the courts may fail dreamers if Judge Hanen let’s his personal views ultimately dictate his ruling. In a report, America’s Voice said Judge Hanen “has a history of opining well beyond the scope of his jurisdiction [with] an anti-immigration bent.”

            The Trump administration terminated DACA because they believed a court would likely find the program unconstitutional. Several lawsuits were filed against the administration because advocates believe the government ended the program unlawfully. Thanks to those court challenges, two nationwide injunctions were issued which made it possible for previous DACA recipients to renew their status. More than 100,000 renewals have been processed since January 2018. However, the injunctions did not provide relief for first-time DACA applicants and threats to the program remained.

            One of those threats was a lawsuit filed by Texas and six other states that challenge the constitutionality of the DACA program. Judge Hanen heard a motion for a preliminary injunction and decided not to rule on the constitutionality of the program at this time, and only determine if the program should be ended immediately. His decision could stand in conflict with the two nationwide injunctions in New York, and California. As the National Immigration Law Center explains, “many different scenarios and timeframes are possible, depending on the different court’s timing and rulings.” One possible scenario is that the clashing injunctions could lead to the program’s fate to be decided by the Supreme Court. 

            The only difference between the Dreamers who continue to wait for their fate to unfold in the various courts and me is that I became eligible to apply for citizenship after I fell in love and married my U.S. Citizen boyfriend in 2008. None of my academic or professional accomplishments made me eligible to apply, and even after my marriage it was not guaranteed that I would be granted citizenship. I am lucky, because on August 8, 2014 I walked into a court in lower Manhattan and swore before God that I was American Citizen.

            If we want immigrants to do it the right way and get in the line, then we need continue to fight for a permanent solution so the line can be created. We need to remind congress that the only way Dreamers can have a future that does not depend on a judge’s decision is for them to create a path to citizenship. We cannot stop fighting until every Dreamer can walk into a federal court and face a judge who will lead them in the Oath of Allegiance.


The Day I became a U.S Citizen.

Photo: Morrigan McCarthy for Elle.com

An Open Letter to Senator Cornyn

Dear Senator Cornyn, 

I, like you, am a Texan. Like you, I love Texas and I love the United States. 

I came to the U.S. from Mexico with a tourist visa when I was 11 years old to be reunited with my parents, who came here in search of the wonderful American Dream. But when I turned 14, my visa expired and I became undocumented.

In 2001, Texas gave me the opportunity of a lifetime when it became the first state to allow undocumented students to attend college, pay in-state tuition, and receive state financial aid. My beloved state of Texas with its blue bonnets, Friday Night Lights, and proud “Don’t Mess with Texas” spirit, that Texas gave me an opportunity. Not a handout, I wasn’t looking for a handout — they simply evened the playing field for me. 

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I went on to graduate with honors from UT, and then-Governor Rick Perry presented me with the prestigious Texas Woman Scholarship and called me, and undocumented immigrant from Mexico, “a ray of hope for the future.” I was one of the lucky ones, and was able to gain citizenship after I married U.S Citizen boyfriend. I became a vice-president at Goldman Sachs and now I am a writer. But there are still millions of young immigrants who find themselves with uncertain futures despite their hard work and contributions to our country.

Today you introduced the SECURE Act, because you say you want to help the young undocumented immigrants left in limbo due to President Trump terminating DACA.  But the SECURE Act only secures the deportation of millions of hardworking, law-abiding immigrants, including the DACA Recipients you say you want to help. 

You say there is no urgency in protecting these young Americans, but each day 122 people are losing their ability to work and go to school, and become subject to the deportation machine you want to help expand with the SECURE Act. 10,000 Dreamers have already lost their DACA status, some of them in Texas. Starting March 5th, more than 1,700 people will begin losing their status. 

The SECURE Act is nothing more than a far right, fear mongering bill.  We will not be distracted by your attempt to derail talks of passing a legislative solution that provides a permanent solution for Dreamers with a path to citizenship. 

If you want to help dreamers and Texans like me, I urge you to co-sponsor the Dream Act. 


A fellow Texan. 


Plans make God Laugh

They say that if you want to make God laugh, then make plans.I had both plans and a vision for 2017.My plans included spending 2017 in Mexico to reconnect with my culture, to try to regain what I've lost in the two decades I have lived in the U.S, and to find the pieces of myself that I thought I could only find in my homeland. I was going to write an "Eat, Pray, Love" sort of second book, it was going to be equal parts memoir, history and culture. If I got lucky, maybe I'd even mend my broken heart and find find love, what would it even be like to date a Mexican in Mexico?!It was going to be called "From, From: ...." (The ... would be filled at the end of my journey).Then, in April, I walked into love with a man that I still cannot believe actually exists.A man that shares my values and culture (I had never dated a culturally Mexican man).Being Mexican with him is beautiful; we go eat tacos at the Piñata district after church on Sundays, not as a field trip, but as a way of life.There are a million things we never have to explain to each other.At the same time, there is so much we teach each other about Mexican culture and how diverse and dense, and rich it is ( he is from the north (del Norte) and I am from the south ( pa ya del D.F).Then I realized how much of Latino history in the U.S is hidden, how vital and integral we have been to this country and how little it is known or celebrated.We have so much material for Oscar-winning movies, best-selling books, critically acclaimed documentaries, so why are we not doing and achieving those things? We were there during every single historically important moment in U.S history, so why do not even Latinos know about it? And then, Donald Trump won the November election, and my plans were out the window.I certainly cannot leave the U.S now, not even for a year. Oh no, there is much work to be done, here and now.So my plans have all changed for 2017.But my vision, my vision was constructed with prayer, with deep reflection and truth.So while my methods had to be adapted, I am on a mission to reconnect, discover, and grow.2017, I am excited to receive you.


Soaring through the Sky

I have always been afraid of physical heights, but my spirit has always wanted to soar through the sky. I've wanted to go skydiving for many years but for one reason or another it had never happened. Finally, this weekend, I jumped out of a plane 18,000 feet above the ground. The free fall lasted 90 seconds. It was truly one of the most incredible experiences of my life, an indescribable feeling of dread, peace and freedom all at once. Once the parachute was opened, I felt like I was standing still, floating, in the sky. I don't often have a feeling of pure stillness, my mind is always thinking, planning, preparing, but for a few seconds, as I made my way back to the ground, my mind stood still. Being up in the clouds, being able to look at God's creation from the sky, a view I will never forget, was truly one of the most beautiful privileges of my life. 

Life has once again shown me that everything happens when it's supposed to happen, not a minute before, not a minute after. I flew through the sky at the precise moment I was supposed to. 

Always grateful, always in awe of the beauty and the force of nature. As we were going up, a fire was breaking out nearby. Many acres of land, and many homes have been lost to the fires in California. The sky was almost red in some places, the smoke penetrated my sense of smell. The fire, the height, the entire view put everything in perspective. The world is a much bigger, complex space than what happens in our lives every day, and yet, we still matter. Our lives matter, our dreams matter. I landed on the ground proud of myself for taking the leap despite my fear. I landed on the ground with a whole new perspective. I landed on the ground ready to soar to new heights this fall. I am three weeks away from another monumental day in my life- the release of my first book, My (Underground) American Dream. I am ready.

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Una de las fuentes de talento más diversas de EE UU, desaprovechada.

Desde el gobernador de Michigan, Rick Snyder, hasta el CEO de Dow Chemical, Andrew Liveris, casi todos los panelistas en la reciente cumbre “Frbes Reinventing America”declararon que mientras la inmigración es un factor clave para el crecimiento económico de los Estados Unidos, es a menudo subestimado. El gobernador Snyder lo dijo claramente: “Tenemos un sistema de inmigración defectuoso; es algo estúpido”. Me dio mucho entusiasmo que tantos líderes de gobierno y del sector privado reconocieran la correlación entre la inmigración y la ventaja competitiva de nuestra nación.

No obstante, me quedé con la duda de por qué nadie habló de la fuente tan increíble de talento que representan los estudiantes elegibles para la Acción Diferida Para Llegados en la Infancia (DACA, en inglés). Este programa federal­­ ya en su tercer año y con una expansión bajo consideración por los tribunales federales­­ permite a los jóvenes que llegaron a los EE UU antes de cumplir los 16 años a trabajar legalmente y ser exentos de deportación. Estos permisos son renovables cada dos años a costa del solicitante. Si las compañías de verdad toman en serio tanto el talento como la diversidad, deberían de reclutar a los beneficiarios de DACA. Si no lo hacen seguirán pasando por alto algunas de las mentes más brillantes de la nación.

Son cada vez más comunes las historias sobre jóvenes indocumentados que alcanzan grandes logros. Noticias como la de las gemelas indocumentadas qe fueron primeras en su clase graduada y que ahora estudian en la Universidad de Notre Dame; el inmigrante mexicano que co­fundó una de las cmpañías más grandes del mundo de aeronaves no tripuladas;y el pimer estudiante indocumentado de medicina en la Universidad de California en San Francisco, son ejemplos del intelecto y el valor que distinguen a los jóvenes indocumentados en los EE UU.

Las compañías estadounidenses siempre se quejan por la falta de visas H1­B (visas para no inmigrantes diseñadas para que los empleadores puedan reclutar y contratar a profesionales extranjeros en capacidades técnicas). La expansión de ese programa es necesario, pero también es necesario aprovecharse del talento de los estudiantes con DACA, representado por jóvenes que llevan la mayor parte de sus vidas en nuestro sistema educativo y consideran a los EE UU su país.

Cada año se gradúan 65,000 estudiantes indocumentados de la preparatoria. A pesar de enfrentar grandes retos, muchos estudiantes DACA se gradúan exitosamente de la universidad solo para encontrarse con políticas corporativas de reclutamiento que los excluyen. A estos jóvenes que buscan trabajo­­ quienes tienen número de seguro social y permisos para trabajar­­ se les hacen responder a preguntas ambiguas o imposibles sobre su estatus migratorio, como por ejemplo: ¿es ciudadano de los EE UU, residente o necesita patrocinio de empleo? Estudiantes DACA no califican bajo ninguna de estas categorías y se quedan con muy pocas opciones para explicar su estatus legal mientras que compiten con cientos de otros solicitantes.


Los departamentos de recursos humanos de las grandes corporaciones no están al día de cómo incluir a solicitantes que tienen DACA y muchas veces ni conocen el programa, a pesar de su prominencia en las noticias nacionales ya por tres años. En julio del 2014, Rubén Juárez, un mexicano beneficiario de DACA, dmandó a Northwestern Mutual tas que le denegara una oferta de empleo por no ser ciudadano o residente permanente. Un juez recientemente rechazó la moción de Northwestern para desestimar el caso. Aunque la demanda se resolvió en privado, esa orden judicial manda un mensaje claro a las compañías que no pueden discriminar entre distintos estatus legales.

¿Cuál es el resultado de las prácticas actuales del sector privado? Programas de reclutamiento rechazan a candidatos viables y como resultado, sufren tanto estas corporaciones como la economía estadounidense en general.

Los “DACAmentados”, quienes a pesar de los retos se gradúan de universidad muchas veces sin asistencia financiera o apoyo familiar, también pierden oportunidades valiosas para su desarrollo profesional que sí están disponibles para sus colegas. Por ejemplo, algunos de los programas de desarrollo profesional y de mentoría para estudiantes minoritarios más importantes, como por ejemplo Sponsors for Educational Opportunities, INROADS y CODE2040, no dejan claro si estudiantes DACA cualifican para sus programas. Aun cuando los programas aceptan a estudiantes DACA, sus requisitos de solicitud son sumamente difícil de encontrar. Cuando llamé a uno de estos programas para preguntarles si los estudiantes de DACA cualifiquen, la respuesta fue, “qué es DACA?”.

Como muchos estudiantes DACA, no tuve el beneficio de padres que conocieran el proceso de solicitud para universidades ni cómo navegar el mundo empresario. Sin embargo, tve una carrera exitosa en Wall Street y me hice vicepresidenta en Goldman Sachs a los 27 años. No hubiera sido posible todo este éxito sin los consejos que recibí a través de programas de desarrollo profesional. Las entrevistas de práctica, talleres de “Vestirse para el Éxito” (Dess for Success,en inglés) y entrenamientos con el programa Dale Carnegie, y los mentores que ofrecían estos programas, fueron factores cruciales en mi éxito profesional.

A pesar de los obstáculos que enfrentan los DACAmentados­­ el rechazo de las universidades, los retos financieros para estudiar, y el estigma de ser indocumentado­­, mantienen una pasión por el éxito y resultan ser algunos de los jóvenes más talentosos de nuestra nación. ¿Qué compañía no quisiera a estos jóvenes como empleados?



One of the Most Diverse Talent Pools in America, Untapped

From Michigan’s Governor, Rick Snyder, to Dow Chemical’s CEO, Andrew Liveris, almost every single panelist at the recent 2015 Forbes Reinventing America Summit declared immigration a key asset to growing America’s economy and an often undervalued resource. Governor Snyder put it simply: “We have a broken immigration system; it’s dumb.”  I was thrilled that so many government and business leaders recognized the correlation between immigration and our nation’s competitive advantage.

However, I was left wondering why no one talked about the amazing pool of diverse talent among students eligible for Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The federal program - now in its third year, with an expansion currently being debated in federal court - allows young people who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16 to work legally, be exempt from deportation, and is renewable every two years at the applicant’s expense. If companies are serious about talent and diversity, they must recruit DACA recipients - or continue to overlook some of the nation’s most brilliant minds.

Stories of undocumented young people achieving great success are becoming increasingly common. News of the undocumented twin high school valedictorians who now attend the University of Notre Dame, the Mexican immigrant who co-founded one of the largest drone firms in the world, and the first undocumented medical student at U.C. San Francisco illustrate both the intellect and drive that is brought to the table by young undocumented Americans.

U.S. businesses often complain that more H1-B visas are needed (non-immigrant visas designed to allow employers to recruit and employ foreign professionals in specialty occupations). Expansion of that program is necessary, but so is tapping into the DACA talent pool, represented by young people who have been in our education system most of their lives and call this America home.

Every year, 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school. Despite huge barriers, many DACA students go on to graduate college successfully, but later find that corporate recruitment policies throw down the gauntlet on their admissions process. These job seekers - who have a social security number and work authorization - must answer ambiguous or impossible immigration status questions: U.S. citizen, resident, or needs employment sponsorship. DACA students do not fall under any of these strict categories and are left with minimal options to explain their unique status while often competing with hundreds of other applicants.

Corporate HR departments are not up to date on how to include DACA job applicants or are many times not even familiar with the program, despite its prominence in the national news for three years. In July 2014, Ruben Juarez, a Mexican-born DACA recipient, sued Northwestern Mutual after the company reneged his employment offer because he was not a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident. A judge recently denied Northwestern Mutual’s motion to dismiss the case, and while the case has since been privately settled, the ruling sends a strong message that companies cannot pick and choose which work authorizations they will honor. 

The result of these practices? Recruiting programs turn away viable candidates, and both individual companies and the U.S. economy lose out.

The DACAmented, who above all odds graduated from college often with no government financial aid or family support, also lose out on professional development opportunities offered to their peers. For example, some of the top career and mentorship programs for minority students such as Sponsors for Educational Opportunities, INROADS, and CODE2040, do not make it clear if DACA students qualify for any of their programs. Even if they are welcome, some of these program’s websites make it uniquely difficult for DACA beneficiaries to get basic information and apply. When I called the office of one of the programs and asked if DACA students qualify, the answer was: “What is DACA?”

Like many DACA students, I did not have the benefit of parents who knew the college application process or how to navigate entry into the corporate world. Yet, while undocumented, I built a successful career on Wall Street, becoming a vice president at Goldman Sachs by 27. My success would not have been possible without the guidance provided by career development programs.  The mock interviews, Dress for Success workshops, Dale Carnegie training and mentors that these programs offered were instrumental in my career success.   

Despite the many obstacles the DACAmented face - being turned away from higher education, financial issues, and the stigma of being undocumented- they maintain a drive to succeed and are some of our country’s most talented young people. What company wouldn’t want this type of employee?

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A Confession.

I must confess that for a long time, I struggled to understand how LGBTQ could be.  I thought my Christians beliefs were are odds with understanding LGBTQ people.  Sometimes, I still have a hard time wrapping my head around it.  I've asked a lot of personal, probably inappropriate questions of my LGBT friends, and they responded so openly and so kindly, and never took offense- I was trying to understand.  Now, I don't really need to understand or know how, or why.  I just know that God loves people, he made us all, we are all human beings.  Our souls are what lives forever, in all eternity.  Our souls don't care where we were born, who we love, what body we have, what passports we have.  The turning point for me was people, the stories of people who had suffered so much.  The stories of people who had to live in the shadows, in a closet, afraid to show who they really were.  The stories of PEOPLE. 

Our immigrant communities are some of the most anti-LGBTQ communities out there and we must change that.  We must change that because if we don't want the color of our skin to define us, if we don't want pieces of paper to define us, then we cannot define others by outward things either. 

We must create in our communities understanding and acceptance of ALL people.

Please go read this beautiful post by Laverne Cox. 

"This is why we need diverse media representstions of trans folks to multiply trans narratives in the media and depict our beautiful diversities....

I have hoped over the past few years that the incredible love I have received from the public can translate to the lives of all trans folks. Trans folks of all races, gender expressions, ability, sexual orientations, classes, immigration status, employment status, transition status, genital status etc... The struggle continues…"


I HAD to Be a Part of This!

Today marks my one year anniversary with Define American!  

On April 17, 2014, I watched Documented for the first time.  Half-way through the film, I looked over at my boyfriend full of tears and I said, "I have to be a part of this".  A month and a half later, I was hired as the Director of Development for Define American.  

I could have never imagined how much my life would change in just one year.  My role has changed, I live in a new city across the country and every day I thank God for the opportunity to live out my dream. 

The road ahead of me is a tough one.  We have a long way to go before ALL Americans recognize immigration as a humans rights issue.  We have a long way to go before ALL immigrants take back their dignity.  We have a long way to go before we are recognized as Americans, even before a pieces of paper say that we are.  My heart has been broken over and over again in the past year, and at the same time my heart is continually renewed with hope.  

I could not ask for smarter, stronger, kinder people, than the people at Define American, who every day give everything to make the road smoother.  

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I had the pleasure of meeting the students of ALIANZA at the International High School in New York last week.  ALIANZA is a group of 16 recently arrived immigrant students from Mexico, Central and South America, 9-12th grade. Some of of the students crossed as unaccompanied minors, while others came to the U.S to reunite with family after decades of separation. They all share a common goal: to graduate and conquer their dreams.

Many of these students, especially the male students, are financially responsible for their families in the U.S and often send remittances to their home countries as well.  Can you imagine being 16 years old and being financially responsible for your family?  I cannot, it breaks my heart.  When their teacher shared with me some of the circumstances these children have endured, I expected to meet very different students. 

What I encountered where children full of hope and energy.  These sixteen students reminded me of how much the human spirit is able to endure, conquer and overcome.  

I thank them for allowing me to sit in their circle of trust, for their honest and tough questions and for giving me sixteen more reasons to keep fighting for equality and dignity for all immigrants.  

I must also express my gratitude to their teacher, who reached out to me to come speak with them, and to all teachers who make a huge difference in young people's lives. 

ALIANZA students holding the 'The Pledge' for immigration fairness.  

ALIANZA students holding the 'The Pledge' for immigration fairness.  



I am a woman of faith, of Christian faith to be precise, most importantly though, I just love God.  I love his faithfulness and his love for me.  I went through some pretty dark moments of uncertainty, some serious heartbreak, and through it all God continued to show me love.  God carried me through every single moment.  Faith really is believing without seeing, and I needed a lot of faith with each step I took.  I didn't know if I was going to be able to attend college until three weeks before I set foot on the UT campus.  I didn't know how I was going to pay college when the City of San Antonio built a museum in the place where I sold Funnel Cakes.  I didn't know how I would get a job after college.  There were a lot of things I didn't know, but I have always known that God, my saver, my redeemer has called me by name.  God, my redeemer, has ordered my steps.  

The way I wake up every morning is with my arm by my head, and the first thing I see is "Redeemed." It reminds me each morning that no matter what happens, God has me.  

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The thing about coming out.

As someone who was undocumented for over a decade, I know a thing or two about keeping secrets.  I was afraid of letting people fully into my life, even my closest friends.  I had to compartmentalize every area of my life, and as much as I wanted to be myself with my friends, I was afraid.  I was afraid they would look at me differently, I was afraid they would reject me, I was afraid they would feel sorry for me.  

There were vacations I couldn’t take with them, not even to Puerto Rico, I was too afraid.  I would show up late or early to outings since I used my Mexican passport as I.D., and that always raised questions- why didn’t I just use my license?  I could only make up losing my license so many times.  Slowly, but surely all those secrets, all those slight modifications to daily life starting taking a toll.  It was as much an emotional toll as a physical one.  I had chronic back pain, such awful pain that I would lay on the floor for hours at a time.   I tried to live a normal life, but I had lived so many years with tiny little lies, that I didn’t even know what was really normal anymore.  I didn’t really know who ‘myself’ was.  

Slowly, I started letting people, I would have broken otherwise.  If I regret anything, is not letting my friends in sooner.  I had dinner with a dear friend, who was also my roommate in New York, last night and it felt so good to finally be able to tell her everything.  I am sure so many of my ‘quirks’ finally made sense!  I wanted to say sorry for taking so long, but she understood— real friends always do.  

I have come to realize that the most beautiful thing in life is for someone to know you, to really know you.  But before others could know me, I had to figure out who I was.  Beyond the papers I didn’t have, beyond the things I had to do to survive, beyond what I had, and what I didn’t have.  

I’ll continue to discover me, but I am so thankful that this crazy journey has taken me this far— to a place where I know me and others know me too.  


I just finished updating my status with the Social Security Administration as that of a U.S citizen. Next Tuesday when I travel to my homeland, Mexico, I’ll be using my U.S passport for the first time. I didn’t think these things would make a difference in how I felt, I already felt American for a long time. But these documents, these pieces of paper, do make me feel different, they make me feel legitimate, they make me feel like I belong. At least today, that’s my feeling. I also see the unfair and arbitrary nature of our immigration system. There are still 11.5 million undocumented Americans who wait for a path to citizenship, I am not any more deserving than any of them. The President’s executive action is a step in the right direction, it protects families from being separated, it offers people a dignified way to work, to be seen, to come out of the shadows. But it is not enough. Undocumented Americans have called the U.S their home for an average of 10yrs (I waited 20yrs), when will we recognize them as our own?