A Risk Worth Taking

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I needed a job after high school to help my family and to be able to pay for college. I opened my computer to fill out job applications and questionnaires from Safeway, Old Navy and Target. What's your name and address? Do you have a high school diploma? What would you do if a customer needs help? I breezed through the questions until I got to the one that read, "Please enter your social security number." I didn't have one.

Sitting in my room I remember feeling so frustrated because I was born in another country. A place I don't remember and haven't visited since I was two. Because I don't have legal status, I couldn't do even the simplest things that my friends could do. I had never been able to find a job that paid me at least minimum wage. Pell Grants were not an option. Plus, I had a never ending fear of getting my life taken away from me.

That all changed when the Obama Administration announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, or DACA. It allows immigrant youth to get social security number, and a two-year work permit.

I applied for the new status and got it. A month and a half later, I had three job offers. And the job I picked pays me hourly plus commission. I could finally start saving to transfer to a four-year university.

My new immigration status was a dream come true, but it's one I might have to wake up from. I'm not on a path to citizenship. The status is supposed be renewable, but the program might not even be here in two years when a new President is elected.


For 18 years my family has kept our immigration status a secret. My parents taught me to always avoid the question "Where were you born?", and to be extremely cautious in everything, especially driving. None of us could afford to get stopped by the police because of risk of deportation.

Now, thanks to me, my family's best kept secret is in the immigration database. I decided to put myself out there in order to get a better life. I just really hope it's all worth it.

With a Perspective, I'm Luz Elena Hernandez.

Luz Elena Hernandez attends community college in the East Bay and is headed to a four-year school this fall. Youth Radio produced her commentary