; :

“I was just a year old when my family came from Ecuador. My parents were always open with me about it. Even from a young age. I was lucky that way– a lot of undocumented kids don’t find out the truth until they’re much older. Their parents never tell them because they want them to feel normal. So the kids grow up thinking that they’re 100 percent American. Then they try to study abroad, or apply to colleges, and they find out they don’t have the papers. And it hits them hard. It’s like they’ve got to figure themselves out all over again. They learn that they aren’t a part of the culture they grew up in. And they start to feel a sense of shame. Nobody ever talks about it. They’re too afraid. I certainly never told anyone. That’s why DACA was so interesting. It gave us the smallest amount of safety. People started to step out of the shadows, and say ‘I’m here.’ We began to find each other. Now there’s a community. And we’re speaking out together. We grew up in this culture. We grew up with the same kids as everyone else. This is our home.”