By Ju Hong
Originally posted at Reform Immigration FOR America
I was born in Korea and until I was eleven years old, life was simple. Then when I turned eleven, my family lost everything we had and filed for bankruptcy. A year later, my parents divorced. Left with my mom and older sister, we could barely survive in our home country. On July 25, 2001, my mother made the fateful decision to immigrate to the U.S. We came because we had few choices left and were seeking a better life.
Once we arrived, we faced an added set of challenges because of our immigration status. As a senior in high school, I learned that my visa had expired and that I was now living here without status. While my friends talked about colleges, I worried about whether or not I could even go to college. It didn’t seem to matter how hard I had studied in high school — I would not have access to educational opportunities that most people take for granted.
I am not like my fellow students. I am unable to get a legal job, to obtain a driver’s license, to receive financial aid. Worst of all, I’m afraid of being deported. I have nightmares about ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents knocking on the door to arrest my mom, sister, and me. In one dream, ICE agents chased after me in the darkness. As they surrounded me in a corner to arrest me, I woke up in horror. I couldn’t go back to sleep. Every day, I search for a way out of these wicked nightmares.
One of the ways that I face my fear is by speaking up.
I have become politically active by supporting immigration reform campaigns. Especially activism regarding the DREAM Act, a bill that would grant undocumented immigrant students a pathway to citizenship. Right now I am involved in Students for Fair Consideration and the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco, and the Korean Resource Center in Los Angeles. I learned to speak in public, to share my story to members of Congress, and to rally with my peers.
Today and every day, I fight for my rights and that’s why I’m marching to Washington, D.C. at the March For America along with 100,000 people across the country. I want to be heard. I want President Obama to know that comprehensive immigration reform is vital to our community and our nation. We want to see a bill pass this year, in 2010.