Joaida Tornes

Joaida Tornes

Edinburg, TX

Hard worker. Outgoing. Talented. Smart. Creative. Kind. All words others have used to describe me. But never “illegal” or “criminal”. But that’s because people don’t know I am part of millions of children who came to the US at a young age with their parents hoping to find a better life.

For most of my life, I’ve been in the shadows with my status. Not because I am ashamed or afraid of what others think but because I made a promise to myself to go through my life and show everyone that I’m capable of a lot even though I have this challenge. And I’m glad to say I kept that promise. I graduated #25 in a class of 437, received all cords/medals available at my school, captain of the wrestling team, student council officer, and many more extracurriculars that took me to places like Baton Rouge for a National robotics competition, OH AND I’m attending a private university in the fall with a huge scholarship. Did I mention I also have a job at my local mall? For a while, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to go to college or even get a job to help support my family. College was always a dream that was too far for my older sister & I to reach.

That all changed in 2013 when my sister received DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals); currently, she’s attending our local university and has one more year left to graduate & I received my DACA in 2015. Thanks to DACA, I along with thousands of other people can safely explore our options without the constant fear of being deported and we can work, get jobs, to contribute to our families and most importantly to me: GO TO COLLEGE!!! I don’t think people get how important it is to get a college degree. My mom sacrificed everything so I can be the best person I can be. I’m so lucky to be able to live in this country. There’s an abundance of opportunities that people don’t take because they’re too afraid. I get so many chances and people may say “I’m cheating the system” but undocumented people don’t get benefits. Everything I have, I worked for my whole life.

I am American because I am free; pero primero orgullosamente, soy mexicana porque tengo las ganas y mis raises Aztecas siempre están conmigo. Nunca olvidó de donde soy. Mi nombre significa montaña y eso es un recuerdo que no hay límites. Donde hay una montaña, hay alguien que siempre está tratando de llegar a la cima. La montaña es la vida y tu eres el alguien. La cima de la montaña es la mejor persona que puedas ser, y eso es lo que estamos tratando de trabajar para toda la vida.

I’m currently working on my residency. As for my future plans? Well I want to go to law school so I can give people who don’t get much of a voice the chance to be heard. I’m here to stay. I started off this story with words other people have used to describe me, well here’s someone I use to describe myself: determined, undocumented & proud. And one last thing: this nation was founded on immigrants. Don’t let a person (or politician) define a group of people as a whole. Just because there’s one bad apple doesn’t mean you have to cut down the tree.

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