My name is Veronica Gomez and I was brought to the United States three days before my fourth birthday and ever since like many other dreamers I seek the “American Dream.” In elementary school I felt alone because I only spoke and understood Spanish and could not understand when my cousins or schoolmates would talk to me. I remember going to after school programs and having my cousin teach me English even after a full day of school and homework. As years passed English soon became my primary language and I now speak broken Spanish.
Growing up the only thing I knew about immigration was that I could not travel to Mexico, but as a child I did not fully understand what other restraints awaited me. At 16, like many teenagers I wanted to get my drivers license. I had taken driver education in school and all I needed was an appointment to take my driver’s test. As my Dad drove me to the DMV, I noticed him hesitating to take me and on August 28, 2002 my world crumbled before me. At the DMV I presented my Mexican birth certificate and I was told I could not get my license because I was illegal in this country. As I walked back to the car I burst into tears now realizing my legal status.
When I turned 18 my parents drove me to Portland, Oregon because it was a state that was still allowing immigrants to obtain a driver’s license. Last year my Oregon license was going to expire but thanks to some great family friends I hitched a ride with them to the state of Washington to get a drivers license since Portland was no longer allowing immigrants to get one. Having a license gives me some peace of mind that I have a government issued ID. Work has been hard to come by as any undocumented immigrant may know. I have done various jobs such as real estate assistant, loan officer assistant, running a snack shack at a bingo hall, construction work, dog sitting, house sitting, babysitting, moving furniture along side my family, side jobs with my Dad, and help running my mothers event planning business. My parents taught me at a young age the true meaning of hard work and determination and I thank them for all the sacrifices they have made.
I have been raised in the Bay Area for the last 20 years and consider the U.S. my home. Thanks to my supportive parents, in 2009 I received an A.A. in Liberal Art from Los Medanos College, and in 2011 I graduated from CSU East Bay with a Bachelors in Criminal Justice with an option in Law Enforcement and Administration. At my gradation I remember holding back the tears knowing that I would not be able to apply for jobs and put my hard earned degree to use. I am an individual who, like many others, has faced obstacles, but has not let them hold me back nor defeat me. Although I have struggled to live and fit into the American culture, in a sense I do appreciate it because it has made me who I am, and made me appreciate what others may take for granted. My goals are to join the military, more specifically the Marines, get my Masters in Sociology, and ultimately become an FBI Agent.
Over the years I have seen firsthand how discrimination and immigration can affect individuals who want nothing more than to educate and better themselves. Immigration is a huge issue in this country that must resolved for the DREAMers who began this journey 10 years ago, the present DREAMers and future DREAMers. I am tired of having to jump though hoops and hurdles in order to get a license, an education, a job, and a future. Many of us embrace the American culture, speak perfect English, and participate in American activities, but at the end of the day we are not considered American simply for where we were born. A change must and will be made because DREAMers are not asking for a handout, but rather for a chance to work, educate ourselves, contribute back to the community, and live a life without fear.
I am involved in this walk because I believe it is time to stand up for ourselves and come out of the shadows and speak for those who are afraid. In 2010 when the Dream Act came up for a vote in the lame duck session, I promised myself that if it passed I would walk from San Francisco to Washington D.C. in appreciation. Little did I know I would be doing just that though it did not pass. Walking this year and getting the word out would increase the chances of the Dream Act passing and raising awareness within our communities. I believe it is a great opportunity to shed a positive light on the Dream Act, which will benefit DREAMers across the United States. I will walk to Washington D.C. because I now know I have a voice and I am Undocumented, Unafraid and Unashamed.