Chasing A Dream from Arizona to Texas

The Texas Story Project.

“We do contribute to society,” he stated with humility. Diego Andrade was able to convey what most undocumented people feel--pride above all, some fear, and slight confusion. Much like many other undocumented people, Andrade has been able to attend college in pursuit of his goal to become a doctor.

Andrade did not arrive at the thought of going to college like most adolescents do. He knew he wanted to go to college not because it was the next step after high school, but because every day, he saw what life would be like without a college degree. His parents compose the part of the working class that nobody likes to talk about. They have worked in construction, moving furniture, cleaning houses, landscaping, and other labor-intensive jobs. As is expected in undocumented families, Andrade’s family believed he would go straight into the workforce after high school. With his family being low-income there has always been an unspoken pressure instilled in him since a young age. “The first time I went to a full labor job I was only in the 6th grade” he stated solemnly. This reflects the reality that many undocumented families face. Working since the age of 12 definitely shifted Andrade’s perspective on what it meant to work hard. He knew wanted other options besides having a mediocre job all his life.

Andrade moved from Phoenix to San Antonio to escape the institutionalized racism so ingrained in everyday life. Andrade describes the main difference between the two cities as being that San Antonio is a sanctuary city. Phoenix has been notorious for cracking down on illegal immigration. With Andrade feeling terrorized, he did what felt safest and moved to San Antonio. Another reason Andrade felt it necessary for him to study out-of-state is because there is essentially no future for undocumented students in Arizona. The Public Program Eligibility Act, or Proposition 300, requires those who are not U.S. citizens to pay out-of-state tuition and makes them ineligible from receiving any money from the state. The studying out-of-state cost at a community college is nearly three times higher than studying as a resident or citizen. For families who are considered low-income, sending their children off to college becomes a burden.

Andrade does not have DACA because even though he arrived in the late 90s with a Visa, he left to Mexico for one year in 2007. DACA regulations state that the person applying had to be here the entire time in 2007. Andrade lives in a constant state of fear; fear of deportation, fear of being pulled over, fear of not being able to pay for school or graduate yet he perseveres. Andrade has had problems with law enforcement before but he feels as though he just continues to “get lucky.” He was pulled over in March 2016 for talking on the phone while driving. Since he does not have a driver’s license or any form of ID on him, he was arrested and taken to jail for a few hours. Andrade began to imagine his life in Mexico because he believed he would be deported that same day. After having been in jail for a few hours a policeman told him, “You’re free to go. Go before ICE knows you’re here.” Andrade does not have the luxury of making common stupid decisions like using the phone while driving.

America is not the land of opportunity for him but rather a stepping stone. He dreams of joining the Peace Corps and offering services as a doctor. Andrade has an undeniable passion that has led him to do what many others have repeatedly told him he could not do. This is not just Andrade’s story, it is the story of hundreds of thousands.

Samantha Zamorano is a second-year student pursuing two degrees: Political Science and International and Global Studies, along with a Portuguese minor. After college, her goal is to pursue work in the non-profit sector and do voluntary work overseas in Portuguese-speaking countries. She will be going to Brazil during the month of May 2019 to further her studies in the Portuguese language and Brazilian culture.

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