Tomorrow, on October 5th, a broad coalition will come together across the country to call for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship. Part of this National Day of Dignity and Respect is a “storython” where people will share their stories about the immigration system, and how it has affected their lives. To follow it, check out the hashtags #11MillionDreams and #Oct5.
In addition to letting you know about the event, I wanted to get it started by sharing my own story.
My name is Hina Naveed, and my family immigrated to the U.S. when I was just 10 years old to seek medical treatment for my older sister. She had undergone brain surgery in India and the after-effects of radiation were worsening. During the course of her treatment our lawyer misfiled our petition for visas, resulting in an order to leave the country within 30 days. We stayed to make sure my sister stayed alive.
I was never concerned about my legal status until high school. My peers were excited about getting their driver’s licenses or applying for jobs, and I was unsure why I could not do the same. After speaking to my parents, I was told that we did not have legal immigration status.
It only got worse. During my senior year, while I was applying for scholarships and looking into colleges, I found out that I was ineligible for many scholarships, financial aid, and loans due to my immigration status. I was disheartened and perplexed.
Thankfully, I stumbled upon the New York Immigration Coalition Dream Fellowship. In addition to providing a grant to help me pay for college, the group also provided an internship at a local immigrant center in Staten Island. That’s when I truly began to understand what the fight for immigration reform entailed.
However, I still was not eligible for the academic program I wanted to pursue. That’s why Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, was a dream come true for undocumented youth like myself. It provided temporary work authorization and status, and allowed me to apply to school. I am proud to say I am now a Nursing Student at the College of Staten Island, and plan on becoming a nurse practitioner.
My life has evolved so much in such short months, and my story is not unique. Many other DREAMers face similar situations — and DACA is only temporary. We need a long term solution for our broken immigration system.
That’s why the #11MillionDreams storython this Saturday is so important. It reminds us what’s at stake in the fight for reform, and that undocumented youth like myself want to contribute, and want to make America better.
Thank you for reading my story. I hope it’s just the first of many that you hear this week.
P.S. To see more stories like mine, follow the hashtag #11MillionDreams or the hashtag #Oct5 tomorrow.