My American Dream, Minus the Paperwork

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The following post is the first in a THINKPolicy series profiling IBM Dreamers and their personal stories. Their identities have been protected for confidentiality. 

My story is the American Dream—work hard, make something of yourself, go to college, build a life here. It’s the American Dream in all but one way—paperwork.

I was born in Mexico, and was brought here by my parents when I was 13. I quickly adjusted to life here, and felt like a typical American kid. I studied hard. I became the captain of my cross country team, and I was company commander of my ROTC team. I had always wanted to go to college—I’d be the first of my family to do so, and it represented the promise that this great country stands for.

I knew that because I didn’t have legal status, that dream would be harder for me than most. I didn’t qualify for loans or financial aid, but I kept working towards a degree in information systems management. While I was working multiple jobs in restaurants to pay for school, I got asked to interview for a job in a technology company. I showed up for the interview only out of fear of revealing my status if I declined to go.

I got offered the job, and on the same day I received in the mail my legal work permit, which I was able to apply for through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. I took it as a sign. I accepted the job and I started working in the technology sector in early 2013.
"My story is an example of the promist America brings to people from all backgrounds and walks of life."
My life here is a privilege, and I’ve worked to live up to it every day. I’ve been an IBMer for almost two years as a member of the Watson team. I’ve been able to use my degree to help build products and software to help Watson analyze and synthesize massive amounts of data. And I’m proud of the work I do at IBM to help develop new technologies that enable businesses and professionals to do their jobs better.

In the two years I have been at IBM, I’ve gotten to see — and contribute to — the development of Watson and amazing technology in the AI space. And I want to continue that work. It shouldn’t be stopped because the DACA program ends.

My story is an example of the promise America brings to people from all backgrounds and all walks of life. DACA has given me an opportunity to be able to live in equality of circumstance. No more and no less. It wasn’t my decision to come to the US, but for the past nearly twenty years, I have worked hard to uphold the American ideals that are now part of my identity.

I encourage Members of Congress to allow Dreamers like me to continue to embrace, and help improve, the collective American wellbeing by driving American innovation and economic growth. It is time to realize the real dimension, the indubitable potential and the tremendous strength that Dreamers have. I am hoping that lawmakers from all leanings can come together to allow Dreamers to stay permanently in this country we all call home.

Check back for more IBM Dreamer stories, which will be published regularly on THINKPolicy in the coming weeks and months. 


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