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A Dreamer breaks her Silence

Luz Cortés  |  Issue: February | March 2018

It takes one person to be brave for others to take a stand

Everyone has a shadow – even when it is dark, it’s still there. But what happens when instead of letting your shadow follow you, you become your own shadow?

That’s what being undocumented in the United States is like. It’s easier to just blend in with everyone else and not speak a word because if you do, there might be consequences. I was brought to the USA when I was just 7 years old and growing up I had no idea that not having papers was going to cause a lot of problems for my future.

In the 8th grade, my mother was forced to tell me that I didn’t have a Social Security number when my class was planning a trip to visit Washington. Ever since that day, I have blended in and never talked about my situation. I felt like a burden – who was going to sympathize with me? Would anyone see me differently if I told them my situation? Throughout my high school years, I would see my friends working, getting their drivers licenses and traveling. I felt so useless, but I did a good job at blending in. No one would have ever guessed that I didn’t have papers.

Then one day in my senior year, I was sitting in class pretending to fill out my FAFSA® (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form when I heard a girl tell the teacher: “I wasn’t born here so I can’t fill this out.” It turned out to be a girl who I had been sitting next to for four years and who happened to be my friend. To my surprise, another girl spoke up and said the same thing.

I couldn’t believe it! I wasn’t alone. I never was.

After class, I talked to my friend and told her that she and I were in the same position. Our eyes teared up because we couldn’t believe how during these past four years we had been friends and never knew that we shared the same secret. And it was a secret until it wasn’t one.

I no longer felt embarrassed because it wasn’t my fault that I wasn’t born in this country. I decided to make the best of my situation and speak up for those who still hide in the shadows. The best thing to do is to use your voice for what you believe in – that is the most powerful weapon a human being can have. For years I was terrified to speak up because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. But drawing attention to what you stand for is revolutionary.

It takes one person to be brave for others to take a stand. That is the best chain reaction there could be.

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