Observer Letter to the Editor: Fighting for our futures

Author: Institute for Latino Studies

ILS faculty and staff have been actively involved with the University's efforts to admit and support "DREAMer" students to pursue their aspirations through a Notre Dame education. We are very proud of all our students, including the authors of the following editorial that recently appeared in The Observer campus newspaper.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

My twin sister and I were excited about moving on to campus. As freshmen, we had a million questions running through our heads. What should we bring? Were the football games going to be as exciting and wild as we imagined? Were we going to survive several months without delicious home-cooked meals? How would it be like to live hundreds of miles away from home? As time got closer to moving in, and things began to fall into place, these worries faded to a single thought: What would college be like as an undocumented student?

My sister and I were born in Zacatecas, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States at the age of five. We moved into a tiny house in Gardnerville, Nevada, and went to a local elementary school, where we learned how to speak English through the Head Start Program. The first year of school was hard because we could only speak Spanish; however, as time passed, my sister and I became proficient in English and some of the best students in our class. Through middle school and high school, we continued to excel academically but did not know if we would ever go to college.

We both knew we were undocumented since fourth grade. We didn’t quite understand what being undocumented was, but we were told not to mention it to anyone else. No one really asked about our citizenship status until we were in high school. Maria and I were sitting at dinner with our friends when one of them asked where we were from. Indifferently, one of us replied that we were born in Mexico, hoping that the conversation would end there. Unfortunately, one of the girls abruptly turned towards us and asked, “Are you guys citizens?” Before either of us could answer, another girl turned towards her and replied, “Of course they are. Otherwise they wouldn’t be so classy.” Only a few people knew about our immigration status. If we told others, we ran the risk of facing hostility from students and teachers.

When we received DACA status in 2012, everything changed for us. DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and we are also commonly known as DREAMers. With DACA, we can work legally in the U.S. and are given temporary cards that must be renewed every few years. DACA made college a possibility, but it was not guaranteed. Due to our status, we could not apply to most state schools, and we were limited to a few colleges. When we were accepted into the University of Notre Dame, we were given the opportunity to pursue our interest in chemical engineering.

This year, there are 10 DACA freshmen, including Mauricio Segovia, who is pursuing a major in physics, and Siegfried Hall president Carlos Covarrubias, who is majoring in finance and economics. One of our greatest experiences as a group was meeting Fr. Hesburgh before his passing. He told us about his greatest accomplishments, including the acceptance of women into the University. Fr. Hesburgh told our group that we will also make the University proud for accepting us. Having the support from a man who has faced much opposition in his life has given us the courage to tell others about being DACA students. Every time we walk by signs of the quote, “If Father Hesburgh was for you, you didn’t care who was against you,” we are reminded that we have a responsibility to share our story in hopes that future DACA students will be more welcomed into the University.

As DACA students, we want to share our story with others. Immigration reform has been a big political issue at the federal level, and people often forget about the stories behind the issue. Although not everyone supports DACA, we hope that students are ready to hear our story and learn about the push-and-pull factors that cause families to emigrate from their home countries. Faculty members have constructed a strong support system at ND for DACA students, which we are thankful for. We work hard so that one day we will be able to give the University as much as it has given us. Thank you, Notre Dame, for fighting for our futures.

Maria A. Munoz-Robles
Pasquerilla West

Brizzia G. Munoz-Robles

Mar. 25

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.