Leasly Salazar

Leasly Salazar

Los Angeles, CA

I was born here in the US, but I might as well have lived 18 years of my life as an undocumented immigrant.

Why? I have been limited of living a full life because my mother is undocumented.

I have been given many opportunities here, but I have had to do them alone or have had to deny them. When all my friends tell me they’ve gone to the Grand Canyon or they visited Florida or went to some country in Europe, I have to stay quiet. I’ve never been outside of California with my mother because of her status.

I’m so afraid we might be the unlucky statistic and she’d get caught if we traveled. We barely can drive up to northern California to visit my cousins.

Now, I’m a college freshman, living in Durham, NC. I worked really hard to get here, without the support many other American citizens have. My mother barely graduated from middle school, so the college process was new to the both of us. When it came time for me to go and live in Durham for the school year, I had to buy one ticket: mine. I had to fly across the country by myself. I hauled all my luggage into my room and got all the paperwork by myself. I had to do everything by myself while I watched other students’ parents do most of the things.

Because my mother is undocumented, she can’t risk flying within the States, let alone going to Mexico. It’s been about 17 years since she last saw her home town. I go to Mexico frequently to visit my family, but I don’t fully enjoy it because i know my mother isn’t there. Even when I’m at home in the US, I don’t feel as if I’m home because I’m limited to staying within California.

Until the day my mother has American residency, I can’t live fully in the US, and I can’t enjoy the most of my native roots. I’m stuck in the middle: I am an American-born citizen, but it’s like I’m a prisoner inside. I’m limited. I’m neither here nor there.

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