Josephine

Josephine

Brooklyn, NY

I grew up American. I landed in Brooklyn when I was two years old.  I found out that I was undocumented when was 17 and about to graduate high school. I was offered a summer job and needed to show up with my social security card. My father and I went for a drive to the social security office, but we never got there. Along the way, he told me the truth. That drive changed the course of my future. I learned that I couldn’t legally work or accept any of the scholarships offered to me. It was a complete shock to my identity — I was disenfranchised from the only place I ever knew. I decided to leave the country and start over where I could be legal. That decision led me to be separated from my family for years. There’s no reason for me to be undocumented. My grandfather was an American citizen. My great-grandfather was a WWII veteran and received a purple heart. My family has a long history in this country. Today, everyone in my immediate family is legal, except me. I have no idea what will happen at the other end of this maze of costly and convoluted paperwork. The bureaucracy that separates me from my family is the only path I have to see them again. I have to trust that the system works, that the system is just and merciful.   How do I define American? I must also say, I look in the mirror. Flawed, but full of intentions to be ultimately good.

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