My family and I immigrated from Colombia in 2000 in search of economic stability and new opportunities. We settled in Stamford, Conn., where we have been living since. My senior year of high school, as I was going through the college application process, my undocumented status became a tangible, frustrating reality. Despite my hard work and optimism, my status dramatically affected the education options in front of me.
Fortunately, I was able to attend the University of Connecticut at Stamford because of the advocacy that opened in-state tuition to undocumented students. Still, because I do not currently qualify for state or institutional aid, each semester is an economic hardship. Through all of this, I did not just face these obstacles, I took action––my identities turned confusion and frustration into empowerment. I became part of a national movement, of a network of undocumented activists who shared their stories publicly and who continue to shape national dialogue.
I remember getting a call from my mother in 2012, ecstatic that President Obama had enacted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Qualifying for DACA has not only allowed me to work at the UConn-Stamford Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Center and gave the ability to obtain a driver's license, but it has also given me and my brother a deep sense of stability. Still, since DACA left out more people than it covered, it has made the gaps in access our community still faces that much clearer. Members of our communities continue to face uncertainty, discrimination, and criminalization in the work place, on the roads, and within their families. I continue to be driven to fight not only for immigrant rights and for increasing access to higher education, but also for queer and trans visibility, for racial and economic justice, for gender equality—for all our communities.