Back in 2008, I believed in the hope and change President Obama promised immigrants. Where our community needed courage, we were met with broken promises.
I came with my two brothers to the United States in 2006, when I was 16 years old, escaping poverty and violence in Honduras. Our parents and U.S.-born sister lived in the United States and our only hope for a better future was to cross the border.
So we took the difficult journey of crossing several borders until we were reunited with our family. When we arrived, my parents already had Temporary Protected Status. My mom had to pick up my younger brother, my twin and me in Texas after the Border Patrol stopped us. We attended the first court day, but not the second day because we couldn’t find a lawyer and were afraid they would keep us in jail. Instead, we got a Final Order of Removal.
I live with the fear of being deported. After I graduated high school, my life changed. I attended enrolled at Miami Dade College, the only college that accepted undocumented students. I in college and became a DREAMer on TV, but not in eligibility.
When Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, I didn’t qualify because I crossed the border a month after my 16th birthday. I was left out.
Last legislative session in Florida a bill allowing in-state tuition for students, like myself, was introduced. Students with DACA were already eligible for a waiver at Florida International University, but I was not.
The in-state tuition bill passed and for the first time, I wasn’t left out. Even though it has allowed me to take more classes this semester, I still find myself struggling to get $3,000 per semester to pay for books and tuition.
Having a minimum wage paying job doesn’t help and being forced to reject good jobs because of my immigration status hurts.
While Democrats and Republicans calculate their next move in the immigration issue, we also make calculations; but they are different. I have to calculate if I will have enough to pay my tuition.
Every day I start driving to school hoping I’m not stopped again. Every day I risk either deportation or paying more court fees with my school money. The same money I work so hard for just to make my family proud of me being the first one to graduate from college.
President Obama can make the decision to go big on immigration and make sure that no other Julio is being left out.
Julio Enrique Calderon, Miami