‘I am Mexican, not an alien’

The Wichitan

Ana Lopez

I was only three years old when my father decided to migrate to the U.S. and follow the “American Dream.” Just like many immigrants, he risked his life crossing the border to give us a better life. He worked hard to send us money to Mexico and better himself. He made a big sacrifice by not seeing us grow up. Seven years went by before I got to see my father again.

When my father decided to bring us with him, I was nine years old and all I knew was that I was finally going to see my father again. I didn’t know I was coming to a country where I was not wanted. I was a kid and so naïve about things. People looked different to me and spoke a language I didn’t know. The thought of going to school and not be able to make friends because of the language was very scary.  I managed to learn English and make good grades in school.

My dream as a kid was to go to college, become someone important, and make my parents proud by showing them that their hard work was not a waste. I saw that my dreams were possible when cross country coaches told me I was good enough to get a scholarship. At the same time, I saw it impossible due to my legal status. Even though all of that was in the back of my mind, I never gave up on my dream. I kept working hard, and found great people around me who saw potential in me and worked very hard to make me better in everything.

I am one of the 800,000 DREAMers who became protected by DACA and gave us wings to follow our dreams. DACA gave me an opportunity to find a job, continue school, open bank accounts and get a driver’s license. It made me come out of the shadows and live without fear for once, since I stepped into this country. I got to travel around without fear. It made my dream of becoming a physical therapist a possibility. My dreams have now been crushed in a matter of seconds. DACA was making my dreams come true.

Some people call us illegals, aliens, wetbacks, or criminals like President Trump says. We like to call ourselves dreamers because that’s what we are. We are not aliens. We are humans. We get many opportunities taken away from us, and close doors for us, but nobody can take our dreams away. We have fought to get where we are and we will continue to fight. We have gotten far, and we are not stopping here. Our dreams are high and nothing will stop us.

I am Mexican, not an alien. I may have not been born in U.S., but I am an American in my heart, and I deserve the same rights as any American. This country saw me grow and become the person I am today. This country is what I call my home. I am not a criminal, I am a “DREAMER.” I don’t take anybody’s jobs, I earn them. I’ve worked hard for what I have. Nothing has been handed to me for free. I have earned every piece. Nobody gave me a degree, I earned it by spending sleepless nights studying and working hard.

I now tell President Trump, “I am not a criminal, I am a dreamer, I am a fighter.” This is not the end for us. We will not give up. We will continue to fight. We are “DREAMers.”

Ana Lopez is an exercise physiology graduate.