Youth activist's parents hid illegal status from her

What happens when you live your whole life thinking you were an American citizen…only to find out that you’re not? No, I’m not talking about a movie of the week. Recently, the Huffington Post reported that 23-year-old and CUNY grad, Yajaira Saavedra, was unaware of her illegal status in the US until only a few years ago.

According to the article, Saavedra vaguely remembered crawling through a hole in a fence in Texas but thought the memory stemmed from a recurring childhood nightmare. It wasn’t until later that she learned the reality: that she had entered the country illegally with her family when she was four years old.


Now, despite her college degree in marketing, Saavedra says she knows she won’t be able to find a job in her field. "My immigration status has also been a huge hurdle in my education career," she said.

How could her parents have not told her that she wasn’t a citizen? That seems extremely irresponsible, not to mention dangerous, on the part of her family. And how could she possibly have not figured it out? It just seems sort of wrong for her mother or father to not let her know about her status at a much younger age. God forbid something had happened and Yajaira hadn't known her immigration status--it could have caused even huger problems than what she is facing now.

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Apparently, I’m not the only one with questions. Readers left hundreds of comments on the article, questioning the truth behind the story.

“There are a few holes in her story,” one commenter said.

“If your parents brought you here when you were four years old and did nothing to help you get legal status with this country, then you know EXACTLY who to blame,” said another.

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Still, Saavedra is now using her knowledge to work towards a resolution. She founded DREAM Scholars, a Manhattan-based group that advocates for the passage of the DREAM Act. She is one of around 20 members, all of whom recently protested at a New York fundraiser for Mitt Romney, a presidential candidate who has spoken out against the DREAM Act throughout his campaign.

"Even though Congress has failed us by not passing the national Dream Act, the undocumented youth did not give up,” she said. “We are united more than ever."

What do you think of Yajaira’s account of her life? Do you believe that her parents never told her the truth  or do you think there's more to the story?

Image via Dream Scholars/facebook