Compiled by MIROSLAVA DELEON/South Kern Sol
Ed. Note: Last week South Kern Sol featured the first part in this four part series featuring youth, who are Dreamers. Many Dreamers are marching forward with their hope of the passing of federal Dream Act, where they’d earn their citizenship. Last year, a few of these Dreamers shared their personal stories with South Kern Sol Reporter Miroslava DeLeon. *Names used in this report have been changed at the request of those interviewed, to ensure confidentiality. This is one of their stories, part three of four in series.
DREAM Student: Blanca Perez, 19 years old.
I was born in Ocotlan, Jalisco, Mexico where my parents struggled financially. My mom was the only one who had a job and there were days we did not have much to eat. When I was 8 years old my dad decided to come to the U.S. My youngest brother was three months old when we immigrated. I did not know where I was going. At the time, I had four younger siblings but I’m now the oldest of seven.
We first lived in Ponoma, Calif. for about five years. My dad worked as a welder and we lived in an uncle‘s house. Where we lived in one bedroom but then my parents bought a mobile home trailer. We lived there for about three years until my dad came to Bakersfield to visit a friend. Then he realized that the houses here were cheaper, so we bought a house in Bakersfield during my 8th grade year.
I went to North High School and I graduated in June of 2010. I was an A and B student, who was involved in ASB and honors classes. I was part of ASB for three years of high school and my senior year I was Rally Commissioner. My younger sister was junior class president and my other sister was freshman class president. We all ran varsity track and cross-country. I was also involved in various clubs like Interact club.
I volunteer at the Good Samaritan Hospital and at an Alzheimer’s care home. I also worked at the food bank and was a group leader for the Children Joining Children event. I also did some volunteering for the Dolores Huerta Foundation and I’m currently working with the United Scholars Group. I was a counselor for Camp KEEP and was voted best counselor of the week. I also did trash pick-up at local parks. Every winter, I volunteer for the Christmas Light Show at CALM.
I felt that college was a fresh start and I went in confident, prepared and determined. I started Bakersfield College last year and I am a human biological science major. I want to get my masters in human anatomy and physiology and then attend medical school or become a physical therapist. I remember taking my assessment test and feeling really focused. When I went to pick up my results the lady looked at me and told me that I should be a doctor because they didn’t get scores like that very often. I actually got the highest scores in reading, writing and math. My first semester I got all A’s except for one class and then my second semester I got a 4.0 GPA. I was taking 18 units and I was also running track. I also ran cross country in the fall and I was part of the state meet and received MVP.
In order to pay for my first semester at Bakersfield College I babysat all summer. One of my coaches helped me pay for my calculus books and some friends gave me their books. I also went to the library and made copies of some other books. The second semester I was lucky enough to have attorney David Torres sponsor me. He saw the great potential I had with my grades. It was actually through the College Dream Fund that was started by Jim Young. There are a lot of people locally, who are willing to help and are supportive of our group and undocumented students.
I feel that being undocumented makes you work harder for everything else and it pushes you to reach your goals. I believe that everything happens for a reason but there are times I get very frustrated. I am not able to get a job or receive financial aid. I have the mentality though that you don’t tell yourself you want to become something, you tell yourself I am going to become this. Education is the one thing that no one can ever take away from you.
The California Dream Act is a huge step and I was actually at the Dream Act singing party with Governor Jerry Brown. There was a group of five of us from Bakersfield. It felt so great to feel that we were actually moving forward. The atmosphere was incredible we never thought something so tremendous would happen. I feel that Jerry Brown is trying to move the state forward because he is very supportive of education.
We still have the AB-131, which is the next challenge and it can really affect the lives of many students across California. When it came to the AB-130 we made phone calls, we lobbied and we even took a trip to Sacramento where we asked legislators for their support. We also went to a rally in Los Angeles with The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). We are really going to push for the AB-131 and we are going to take a lot action. We are going to rally in hopes that the AB-131 also passes.
When the federal Dream Act did not pass it was disappointing and we were very hurt. It really does tear you apart because you think about the people who are able to get jobs. You feel that it will pass and you think about all the great things you are going to be able to do.
There is not a window open any time soon for the federal Dream Act, before presidential elections. Perhaps if Obama does get reelected there is a chance for the federal Dream Act to go through but it would be towards the end of his term.
Although it will take some time, I’m willing to wait. Right now, I have to focus on school in order to get where I want to be. Although there’s always the thought that I’ll get my bachelors degree and the federal Dream Act will still not be passed. Then if I get my masters degree I might not be able to get a job and I’ll have to work at fast food restaurant or in the fields.
We are playing the game just as fair as everybody else. You can’t blame undocumented students for wanting something for themselves. Just because we are undocumented doesn’t mean we should have to settle for working in the fields and not going to school.
People say we take away opportunities but our parents do pay taxes also. We are paying our own way through school so we are doing it on our own. I remember reading a poster in one of our marches that said “no human being is illegal.” We are all humans whether we have our documents or not.
When I go to marches and rallies, it motivates me to realize that I’m not alone. There are so many other students out there that are not giving up. It is amazing to feel that we can do it. When we go to Sacramento there are people from Riverside, Madera, Coachella County, and different cities in California but you automatically relate to them.
These dreamers want to get educated and become the doctors, lawyers and teachers of our country. People are afraid of change and the majority of the community looks at the bad apples in the basket. A lot of people don’t understand undocumented students and their struggles. It’s easy for them to send them back but you can’t do that. These are kids, who were brought here at such a young age and they consider this country their home. They consider themselves American and they have their entire life here.
I’m very thankful to be in this country because this is a country where you can make out of yourself whatever you wish. This country offers the American Dream, where you can become whoever you want. In our country back at home we would not have the same opportunities.
If the entire California Dream Act passes then many states will look at us and we’ll be an example for other states. This shows that as Californians, we support education no matter what color or ethnicity you are.
My future plans are to transfer in a year from Bakersfield College. I want to transfer on a track and cross country scholarship to a private school out of state. I want to get my bachelors degree in human biological science. I’m looking at Rocky Mountain College in Montana, Dickinson State University in North Dakota and Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma.
My inspirations are people like Paola Uriostegui* because before her and the United Scholars I wasn’t very open at all. I almost felt like being undocumented was something I shouldn’t talk about. She and the rest of the group helped me understand that it wasn’t my fault. My parents were the ones, who brought me here for a better life.
I’m involved in helping other undocumented students. I want them to know that we should not give up instead we should keep fighting and work hard. I’m not doing anything incredible. I’m doing what I need to be doing.
To read the second part of this series please visit: