By Citizen in Heart
Citizen in Heart is a 21-year-old undocumented immigrant whose family came to this country when she was four years old. Though she was born in Mexico, she feels no different than her classmates, friends and neighbors who were born in the United States. In the following piece, Citizen in Heart describes how she feels and asks why there exists so much hatred towards people like her.
I am 21 years old and I was born in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, but Tucson, Arizona is my home.
My family and I came to the United States seventeen years ago. They brought me here when I was a child. I have always considered it a privilege to live in a nation that is greatly blessed by God.
Every day, I am so thankful to live here â€” even though many people say I donâ€™t belong here because this land is theirs.
I say nobody owns this land, this earth. Wherever we may go, it does not matter if it is in China or Colombia, we are still on the same land, same planet, and same creation.
I say this not with anger but with sadness in my heart. See, many have labeled me as â€œIllegalâ€ or â€œjob stealer.â€
Because I do not have what they have â€” papers, social security number or citizenship?
Now, since I do not have these privileges as a citizen of the United States, I have to struggle to get a college degree.
This year in 2007, a new law has gone into effect that makes it impossible for me and millions of others like me to go farther with our education.
Proposition 300 makes undocumented students pay double or triple the tuition.
Can you imagine how much it will cost a semester?
It is impossible for me to raise enough money and pay such a high amount for one simple class. So far, I have taken two classes.
Thank God I did great.
The classes were so easy that I felt as if I were in high school again. I could not believe I was paying so much money for something I already knew. I paid $310.00 plus other fees.
Now if I go and apply for a three-credit class, I will pay double of what I paid before. If I get more credits, the higher I pay, and in the end many others like me will end up paying a greater amount than a citizen or a resident.
There are times when I get so frustrated and sad because I cannot get the money to pay for school. I try not to worry too much about myself or my future, but I do worry about the health and future of my parents and my brothers.
A good job that you can only get with a college degree would go a long way to helping my family and allowing us to get health insurance so my parents donâ€™t have to worry whenever anyone of us gets sick.
Some of my friends say that in 2008 Proposition 300 will be removed â€” I pray that it is so I will be able to attend school again.
I donâ€™t consider my going to school stealing from the nation. I would be busting my butt to get a higher education and contributing to this nation in which I have been raised.
The culture and customs of the United States are mine too.
But I know people, if they knew I didnâ€™t have my papers, would look at me like I donâ€™t belong here â€” in my heart, I do.
I used to feel sad all the time and had feelings of hopelessness whenever I thought about not being able to afford to go to school or how people talked about us, but then I said: â€œLord let your will be done, my future is in your hands.â€
I know Iâ€™ll just have to wait and see what will happen with the elections of 2008. It is one election I will be looking forward to seeing who wins.
Editorâ€™s Note: Proposition 300, passed by Arizona voters in November 2006, stipulates that college students who are not legal United States citizens or are without lawful immigration status must pay out-of-state tuition, and that persons who are not United States citizens and who are without lawful immigration status are not eligible for financial assistance using state money. The law requires that those who are not citizens or legal residents pay out-of-state tuition, which now is $90 per credit hour for students taking fewer than seven credit hours and $280 per credit hour for students taking seven or more credit hours. The in-state tuition rate is $65 per credit hour.
(Source: Maricopa Community Colleges)