October 19, 2017
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The following post is part of a THINKPolicy series profiling IBM Dreamers and their personal stories. Their identities have been protected for confidentiality.
It took me five and a half years to get my engineering degree, but I never gave up.
I first came to the United States when I was 11. My parents brought me here after Hurricane Mitch devastated Honduras and set the country’s economy back half a century.
I made friends here, went through grade school and high school here. I graduated with honors. But along the way I found out my story was different than that of my peers. When my friends were getting after school jobs in high school, I found out I couldn’t work because I didn’t have legal immigration status. I had great grades, and thought I’d be able to attend any university across the state, but then I found out I couldn’t qualify for financial aid because I didn’t have the right paperwork. I also wasn’t able to work.
I found a way to make ends meet working at a restaurant full time while also taking classes. I paid my way through school and after five and a half years I graduated with a degree in electrical engineering and without owing a single cent in loans. But because of my status I couldn’t work anywhere that I could use that degree.
For two years, I supported myself in the service industry until the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was put in place. I applied as soon as I could, hoping for the opportunity to use my degree to achieve the American Dream I had worked so hard for.
In March 2013, I got my first professional job, and since then I’ve moved to a role at IBM. Since being accepted into the DACA program I have used my degree as an engineer at multiple technology companies and have been able to transition into a client-facing role with IBM Cloud. I am so proud and excited about the work I do every day, but I worry that in a blink of an eye I will lose all of this.
It is my hope that Congress will pass a permanent solution to allow Dreamers like me to stay in this country, continue paying taxes, and forge forward with our work to drive innovation at companies like IBM. I am grateful for the opportunity I have been given and for the challenges I have overcome, and I want to be able to continue working at IBM without this fear in the back of my mind.
I plan to bring my story directly to Members of Congress so leaders in Washington get a better understanding of Dreamers from every community across the country. I hope that it broadens awareness on how this issue directly impacts people, communities, American companies and our economy.
IBM Dreamer stories are published regularly on THINKPolicy. Read more here.