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Guest Voz: Undocumented youth explains why she’s willing to risk deportation

LatinaLista — The undocumented youth of the Immigration Reform movement are known as the DREAM Act students — young people who were brought to this country by their parents as infants, toddlers, preteens or teens and who embraced being an “American” to the point that until they graduated from high school or wanted to drive a car did they realize they were any different from their friends or peers.

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As the prospect of passing comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) dwindles in Congress this year, the DREAM Act students don’t want to wait any longer to realize their goals of attending college, going to work in professions they are degreed or trained in or enlisting in the military. They want the DREAM Act – the bill that would grant them the recognition that currently eludes them – passed now.

Undocumented youth Yahaira Carrillo

They want it so badly that they are willing to risk the safety of anonymity to come forward with their personal stories. In a new social media campaign called, the “DREAM Now Series: Letters to Barack Obama” undocumented students are sending letters to President Obama and creating videos of themselves explaining why they need the DREAM Act.

The following is the second letter in the campaign:


President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

My name is Yahaira Carrillo and I’m undocumented. As I write this, over 20 undocumented youth are risking arrest and deportation to demand that Congress take action for the DREAM Act.

Just over two months ago, I, along with two others, became one of the first undocumented immigrants in U.S. history to do the same. Like Mohammad Abdollahi, who wrote you a letter on Monday, I too am queer. I risk being deported to a machista country, Mexico, where killings related to homophobia are rising.

I was born in 1985 to a barely-turned 16 year-old who had been kicked out of her house while she was pregnant for being a disgrace to the family. I lived with my mother in an abandoned house in Guerrero, Mexico. She struggled to find work, but was either harassed or asked for sexual favors. She said no.

She was 17 in 1986 when the 8.1 magnitude earthquake hit Mexico. She decided to take me to the U.S., but we didn’t stay that long. At my grandmother’s request, we returned to Mexico. The hits kept coming: my mother ended an abusive relationship with a military man and feared for her life.

Then, my father called- after abandoning my mother while she was pregnant and being MIA for most of my early years, decided he wanted us to join him in California. My options have always been limited. I was 8 years old when I came to the U.S. When I was 14, my 18-year-old boyfriend wanted to marry me. I said no.

When I graduated from the top of my high school class, I thought I couldn’t go anywhere. My parents were migrant farm workers- college wasn’t likely. But years later, I found a private college in Kansas that would accept me. I worked myself to the bone, and obtained an Associate’s Degree. Today, I am working towards my Bachelor’s degree. According to my calculations, it will take me eight years.

I’ve had people tell me that it’s not a big deal, that I should keep on waiting for the DREAM Act to pass. My life has been on pause, rewind or replay for years. Waiting is…

Finish reading Yahaira’s letter.

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