My name is Jorge Tume and I am undocumented. I am 22 years old and have lived in the United States for 14 years. In the year 2000, my parents migrated to the U.S to escape the economic downturn in Peru. My father immediately tried to correct our legal status, but after 9/11 found it more challenging to acquire residency. Since then, I have been on this journey as a DREAMer. I learned to speak, read and write in English in elementary school. As a child I was always asked to envision my future and took for granted living in the U.S.
When I entered middle school, I began to work alongside my parents – washing cars and cleaning homes. I would vacuum, wipe windows and cars, and mop the floors while my parents did the heavy lifting. High school was not easy; I had more responsibilities not only at school, but also at home & work. I sensed that I was different. My friends received their restricted driver’s licenses, bought cars, and traveled abroad to visit family or leave for vacation while I spent my summers working full-time with my parents. I rarely had any leisure time.
Senior year arrived too soon and I partook in the flurry of applying to colleges, scholarships and grants. By this time I understood that I was undocumented and could not apply for financial aid or receive grants or scholarships, despite being an excellent student. To attend college I would have been charged an international student’s full tuition rate. Despite feeling limited, I tried my best to keep a brave face and follow my dreams. I then applied to the United States Marine Corps. However, my application was denied three times given the lack of a social security number. I was discouraged; who wouldn’t be? At that point, I had a long conversation with my parents and realized that to continue my education, my family would have to work 3 or 4 jobs. My parents had taught me that education comes first, and therefore told me not to worry about money, assuring me that it would be an investment.
I went on to graduate from Southwest Miami Senior High School and enroll in Miami-Dade College, and sought ways to resolve my family’s immigration status. Shortly after I was lucky to discover an organization called Students Working for Equal Rights (S.W.E.R), with which I am now involved. Through my involvement, I learned valuable tools to help others understand the situation that undocumented immigrants face. I was able to obtain deferred action status under DACA, which grants undocumented immigrants a renewable two year work permit, but only serves as a temporary option for a selected few.
I always keep my parents in mind and unfortunately fear that one day they will be detained or deported. By fixing our broken immigration system, other families, who like me fear separation, will feel safe in our nation. Let us pass comprehensive immigration reform and show Congress that our country is welcoming of immigrants and wants to overhaul our immigration system.
By Jorge Tume | firstname.lastname@example.org