DREAMin in Zion (Non-fiction)
Hi. My name is August and I’m a DREAMer in Salt Lake City, Utah or I like to call it—Zion. Like many of the undocumented youth in this country, I am facing deportation. I have been fighting deportation for 2 years now and my presence in the US remains uncertain. Last summer I had a great deal of time to reflect on my life and the direction it was going, and lack of direction for that matter, when I realized–I was DREAMin in Zion!
Zion is the word that the early settlers of Utah used to describe this land-Utah. You see, the pioneers of Utah have an extensive history of oppression, persecution, and immigration. Before Salt Lake City became the Mecca of the Latter Day Saint (LDS) religion, Mormons lived in Missouri and Illinois. They were not welcomed into society because of their religion. Members were tarred and feathered.
I grew up in the LDS religion. Baptized at 8. Cub scouts. Boy Scouts. Regular visits to temple with my family. Family Home Evenings on Mondays. Mutual on Wednesdays. Seminary in High School. In fact, it’s funny because folks sometime associate large families with Mormons and there are 11 people in my family. Nine kids and two parents. I loved it. So much so, when I turned 19, I wanted to serve a mission. I wanted to serve my church and set an example for my 3 younger brothers. However, because of my immigration status, I was unable to go. Once again, an opportunity in my life had turned into a privilege.
From that moment on I made a promise to myself. Something changed. I heard a great quote and it came at such a great timing. The quote was given by Abraham Lincoln and it said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Wow. I was blown away by this. All my life I felt limited because of my immigrations status. As I grew older I slowly saw my life turn into privileges. Driving. Flying. Identification. They all became opportunities that were revoked from immigrants. What a world. I felt anger, hate, sadness, depression, and hopeless.
I’ve lived the vast majority of my life here in SL. I love it. This is my home and I’m happy to call it that. Up until two years ago, I was living my life to the best of my ability; pursuing two business degrees at a University of Utah, spending time with my family, kicking it with friends, and trying to sustain myself financially, but then one day I was blindsided by my deportation letter. I worked hard, studied harder, and chased my dreams; that’s all I knew what to do. Fortunately, my hard work paid off and I became a recipient of two academic scholarships. I was on a promising path to graduation; however, my dream of completing my education was nearly prevented because I was suddenly faced with deportation.
My whole life I never spoke about my immigration status and treated it like a disowned child–never talking about it. As long as I can remember I lived in utter and constant fear. I grew up embarrassed. At times, I was ashamed about what I was. Lastly, I felt alone. I’m originally from South America but immigrated to the US with my family more than 20 years ago on visas. I don’t know much about my original country. In fact, it is so significantly foreign to me that I don’t know anything about it other than what Wikipedia, Google, and other online sources have informed me. I have no recollection or the slightest memory of being there. I left it at such an early age that I just learned how to walk at the time I departed. All my life I have pledged allegiance to one flag and one flag only; I know the national anthem to one and one country only. However, my entire existence to the country I love is currently in jeopardy.
I started DREAMin in Zion and my blog because of my vision for DREAMers alike in Utah—the need to tell one’s story about living undocumented in the United States. I strongly believe there are hundreds of individuals like me who were brought to this country as children, grew up loving this nation, are trying to be contributing members of society; however, we remain to live in constant fear and limitations. I wouldn’t consider myself a talented writer but rather a passionate one. Since I was a kid I desired to learn. I loved it. I enjoyed the challenge of learning new things. This describes many in my same situation. My hopes are that this blog will inspire others to share their stories. Best