Douglas Chavarria

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Douglas Chavarria

Hyattsville, MD

Dear America,

About 12 years ago I migrated to this country. I was nine years old at the time. I was looking for a better life and for a safe place to live. I was also looking forward to meeting my dad for the first time, he migrated to the U.S.A when I was baby. The most important thing I was looking for was a new start. Life in my country was not easy. I was sexually and mentally abused by a man who just wanted to release sexual frustration on an innocent kid. Like many countries in Central America seeking justice was not a choice. Injustice happens every day, especially to poor families. A family’s financial status determines how much power they have.

Coming to America was a decision that my parents made for my brothers and I. For them coming here meant that our family could be together. I was glad that my family was going to be together as well, but for me it meant something different. Coming here meant that I would be able to escape all the abuse (a secret I revealed to my parents three years after I arrived here). Adapting to a new country was not easy. I was bullied at school for not speaking the language. There were multiple occasions at school where kids would make fun of me because of my lack of understanding the English language. I would go home and cry every day. I would question God “why me?” I had already gone through a lot back home, why was I going through more pain in this new country? There were a lot of “whys” that I didn’t know the answers to. But that never stopped me from pushing forward.

Over the years America has become my home. When I arrived in this country I felt as if my life was finally starting. Unfortunately being here illegally and not having any documents made it difficult to enjoy life. I was living day to day in the shadows afraid of being stopped and being sent back to the abuse. I felt like I did not have a voice, like no matter what I did it wouldn’t make a difference because of my status. All that changed when the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was approved and passed. I was not only full of joy but that day made me realize that all the hard work my parents did for my brothers and I was worth it. I knew that day I had a chance to change my narrative, I finally had a chance to pursue a career. Former president Barrack Obama did not only become my idol but the person who showed me that you can never lose hope in life. I thank him deeply for allowing me to believe again, for showing me that no matter how horrible my past is I could still accomplish my dreams, and that my past doesn’t determine my destination but my hard work and dedication does. I will forever be grateful for his service to our country (because yes, it is my country now) and for giving me an opportunity.

America is a country that was built by immigrants, it is like John F. Kennedy said “A Nation of immigrants.” From the pilgrims aboard the Mayflower to the migrant workers working in today’s farms, America was founded on the blood and sweat of immigrants. President Trump has apparently forgotten the history of America. He wants to separate families and deport innocent people that are just here to better their situation. He has made racism and bigotry the new norm for America. And that is why I am raising my voice and telling my story, because if I stay silent I would be condemning his actions and his perspectives. If I don’t speak up his lies are going to sound like truths. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” I will not be silent because my future and the future of many in this country matter. I ask you to stand up for the silent voices who are still living under the shadows not knowing what will happen to them next. It is important to tell their stories and to show how much of a contribution we actually are to this great and diverse country.

Today’s America is not the America I have grown to know. I love this country and the opportunity it has given me and my family. I know that living here is a gift that is not to be taken for granted. I believe that my American dream is no different than the dreams of native born Americans. Every day I go to work, I go to school, I hope, and I pray that my biggest dream will come true; that one day I will be given the opportunity to proudly say, I am an American (legally). Sincerely,

A kid who considers America his home.

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