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Youth Voices Against Injustice: That Special Little Card

Young Invincibles is dedicated to amplifying the voices of our generation, so we’re launching an occasional blog series titled “Youth Voices Against Injustice.” The series is aimed at lifting up the voices of young people taking on an injustice in their community. We’ll bring in guest contributors from around the country to discuss issues that may arise outside of YI’s direct issue areas, but where young leaders are stepping up and making their voices heard on an economic injustice important to them. To commemorate National Naturalization Day, guest blogger Italia shares what her ongoing journey towards naturalization looks like.  – Aaron Smith, Co-founder and Executive Director.

Guest Blog By: Italia Aranda


I will always remember the day I got my Social Security card in the mail.  As I stood in front of my mailbox with the small piece of blue paper that I never thought I’d receive, a gust of wind sweetly brushed against my face, I felt many of my worries blow away. With tears in my eyes, I felt disbelief. I was now protected from deportation and could legally work in the United States. But I was also conflicted – the future was still unclear for my family.

Let me give you a little background. I’m one of the few privileged undocumented immigrants living in the United States who benefited from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This change in policy from the Department of Homeland Security and executive order from President Obama now allowed me and other youth in the nation to apply to be deferred from deportation. If approved, we’d be able to obtain a two-year work permit and a social security number.

After the policy was announced, my family struggled to save $465 each to pay for DACA applications for my brother and me, but we got there. “It is a lot of money,” my mom once told me, “but I never want to see you working the horrible jobs your dad and I have to work because for us there’s no way out. I want you to have a way out. I want you to be safe and to have a better life. That’s why we came to this country in the first place.”

Three months after applying, we were approved.  Now there I was, standing in front of my mailbox with a paper that would change my life forever. My path now included a world of endless possibilities. I can now get any job, and I no longer cringe when I see a police officer. I can actually breathe now.

And I am not alone.  When DACA was announced in June 2012, the lives of many undocumented youth in this country began to change. We suddenly found ourselves with renewed hopes of accomplishing our dreams, obtain an education, use our college degrees, and give back to a country that had already given us so much and that we deeply love.

Yet there are still many challenges. I still do not qualify to be a full-time student paying in-state tuition in New Mexico and the hopes of obtaining my bachelor’s degree in biology are slowly fading away. And then, there are my parents. My heart breaks every time they come home from their jobs, seeing their faces covered with exhaustion. At the same time, the reality of them not coming home from their jobs is very real – they can still be deported at any moment.  Although DACA is a huge blessing, I realize that the road to a dignified life does not end here. It is because of my parents, and thousands of families like us all over the country, that I still fight and will continue to fight to make our voices heard.

About the writer:
Italia Aranda is a student at Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque, New Mexico majoring in biology. She was born in Mexico City, Mexico and migrated to the United States in 2002 when she was twelve years old. She is the state coordinator for the immigrant-led, youth-led organization New Mexico Dreamers in Action. Italia hopes to one day be accepted into medical school and continue to create positive changes in her community through medical care.