In celebrating our 1 year anniversary since the Undocumented and Black Convening in Miami, we are relaunching our UndocuBlack Blog. Here is our first submission from one of our members who prefers to stay anonymous. If you are a Black undocumented person and you are interested in submitting a story, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was born in Nigeria in February 1980. My father came alone to the United States in 1981 to attend university in Brooklyn, NY, on a scholarship he was awarded by the Nigerian government. A year later my mother came with me and my older sister to join my father in Harlem. I was 2 years old at the time and my older sister was 4.
A year or two later, the corrupt Nigerian government stopped paying my father’s tuition. They sent him a lone airplane ticket to return to Nigeria, which showed that they did not take me, my mother and sister into consideration. As a result, my father did not return and instead opted to stay in New York to find work and seek a better life for the family. In 1985, our U.S. visas expired and all four of us became illegal residents of the United States.
When I was 17 years old, I wanted to start my life out right and attempted to get a summer job and a driver's permit. It was then my mother explained to me that there was a problem with my status in this country. Ever since then, my life has been full of let downs. The way immigration laws are in the U.S., I did not have an option for my sister and I to get legal status without returning to Nigeria. Doing that would’ve been a big gamble because it was unknown if and when we would be able to return to the United States.
However, my parents had four more children here in the United States beginning in 1983. The law states that if you have a U.S. citizen child that is at least 21 years old, they can sponsor you to become a legal permanent resident. In 2006 when my younger brother—who is a U.S. citizen—turned 21, he petitioned for my parents and they were able to get their green cards. Furthermore, my mother became eligible for U.S. citizenship in 2013, as a result of living in the country for more than 5 years as a permanent resident. I was told that as a U.S. citizen, my mother could now petition for my sister and I, but that was half true. Such a petition would have been feasible if we were both under the age of 21 and we were both well into our thirties when my mother got her citizenship.
So basically my sister and I are stranded here with no other options, not even qualifying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) as that is for people who were no older than 30 when it was passed in 2012. Our hopes rested on the expansion of DACA that would’ve removed the age limit from the program. This would’ve given us social security numbers, work permits, and protection from deportation. Unfortunately, with the recent SCOTUS decision, our hopes were shot down. To say all this has been difficult would be the understatement of the century. People often talk about the “Dreamers”, well I am a DREAMer and have been dreaming for almost 20 years with no end in sight.