My name is Camila Bortolleto, I am undocumented and a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient. I came to Connecticut at the age of 9 with my parents and sister from Brazil. I’ve always known that I was undocumented, but like many undocumented immigrant students, the reality only became apparent when it came time to graduate high school. My immigration status made me ineligible for federal financial aid and most scholarships, which meant that attending college might just be an unobtainable dream.
Although it was difficult, I was able to receive private scholarships to attend Western CT State University and graduated in 2010 summa cum laude with a Biology degree. As I walked across that graduation stage I had no idea what the future would hold for me. The only hope for me seemed to be the passage of the Federal DREAM Act, which came up for a vote a few months after graduation. My sister and I made the trip to DC to see firsthand what we hoped would be the passage of legislation that would give us a path to US Citizenship. I was in DC with my fellow immigrant youth advocating for its passage, when I watched the vote fail before my eyes. It felt like the only hope I had was gone. But I did not give up, I kept fighting and in 2012 we won—President Obama announced DACA. Suddenly everything changed. After 2 years of having a college diploma, being undocumented and being unable to work, with DACA I was finally able to take some steps forward in my life. My life no longer felt like a state of limbo. I am back in DC again, this time working for United We Dream helping to implement DACA, so other youth can also achieve their dreams.