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August 20, 2010

Immigrant Teen Seeks to Continue Studies in U.S.

This piece was originally written and sent as an open letter to President Obama encouraging him to support the Dream Act. The Dream Act is pending legislation that would allow approximately 65,000 undocumented young people who graduated from U.S. high schools to continue their education in this country. Special thanks to the Law Offices of Cynthia A. Groomes, P.C. for contributing to this student voice.

For the past year, 18-year-old Yves has lived a life filled with ambiguity. He came to the United States with his parents as an infant and has lived in the country ever since. Now, the recent high school honors graduate may eventually have to leave the United States and return to his native country of India due to his illegal status in this country.

Below are his thoughts on this ordeal and what he hopes will change for other young people like himself.

I just graduated from high school in Burtonsville, Md., this past June. I was able to do well in my studies all my life and I graduated in the top 5 percent of my class, and got into the University of Maryland College Park, as well as a handful of other colleges. However, I’ve had a looming order for deportation from this country (USA).

I spent the last year restlessly awaiting my unknown future. But until recently, thanks to the work of my lawyer and organizations such as the We Are America project, the Center for Community Change and my family and friends, I was able to get a Deferred Action and now I am ecstatic because I can stay in the United States.

I came to this country from India with my mom on tourist visas when I was barely a year old. I was born in India, but I have never been back to visit, nor do I remember anything about the life there. As far as I can remember, my earliest memories came in America and I consider myself American. I grew up all my life here, completing my grade school education and assimilating into the American culture, which is so rich and diverse. My parents always told me to be grateful and realize how great the opportunities are in America, which is a sharp contrast to the life they’ve described in less developed countries where they came from.

It is clearly wrong that there continues to be so many promising young adults who are prevented from achieving their full potential, simply because they don’t have the right papers. It is trumping  bright, ambitious minds. To correct this wrong we need to pass the legislation known as the Dream Act.

My parents were deported back to their home countries last year. But with their words in mind, I continued to pursue my childhood goal to finish high school and get a scholarship for college. I did achieve my goal, but it’s been devastating to see it escape me as I could not accept any of the college offers because of my status and my looming deportation.

Yet all that changed recently when I was granted a deferral, and with the deportation now on hold I can continue my life here in America. Over the last few months while fighting my deportation, I learned that there are other young adults in America who have received the same deferral of removal I received. And also that there are thousands of other students out there who are in similar and worse situations than mine, and who don’t have as many resources to receive help. I learned that the reason I was able to get an extension and keep my dream alive is because of the countless efforts made by my family, friends, attorney, community organizations, and the willingness of the U.S. government to comply with the efforts. This illustrates how the U.S. is different from any other country in the world, because the government is willing to listen to its people when something is wrong.


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