Allowed to Finally Shine (The Torch)

Allowed to finally shine

THE TORCH: CONTENTSBy Fatima Ahmed, guest blogger
FEBRUARY 23, 2018

My name is Fatima. I am 30 years old and have lived almost my entire life as undocumented in the United States. My mother immigrated from Bangladesh to New York when I was a year and a half old.

“I am lucky to have always known what my passion is, and DACA allowed me the opportunity to pursue it.” (Photo courtesy of Fatima Ahmed.)

I received both my bachelor’s and master’s degree at the Fashion Institute of Technology summa cum laude. Since DACA did not exist when I attended college, I was not able to pay for school with scholarships or aid, even though I would have been an ideal candidate. Instead, I went to school full-time, while also working various odd jobs full-time to pay for tuition. I interned part-time at prestigious museums and fashion houses, knowing that I would never be able to work at those institutions unless I could gain status. I had to turn down dream jobs because I could not be legally paid. While I was a bright student and beloved by notable figures in my university, I had no prospect of furthering my passion in design.

Once I had DACA, my whole life changed. I was immediately hired by Peter Marino Architects, a world-renowned interior design and architecture firm. I was allowed to finally shine at what I studied to do. DACA gave me the opportunity to work in my field, becoming well known in the New York City interior design world before becoming a small business owner of a growing textile company. However, I had been held back in my career, since I was not able to travel. Most of my work is with international clients.

In my personal life, I had not seen my father in 12 years because his quality of life suffered too much as an undocumented immigrant, so he moved back to Bangladesh. He passed away several months ago, and I was not able to see or be with him, since I couldn’t travel then. This caused me an immense amount of grief.

I’ve lived in this country my whole life. My entire family is here. I am an active member of my community. I volunteer in charities, I pay federal taxes, I contribute to the American economy in numerous ways. I know no one in Bangladesh and have no roots or ties there. I am lucky to have always known what my passion is, and DACA allowed me the opportunity to pursue it.

In 2014, I married my husband, a U.S. citizen, and applied for adjustment of status. Just this past September, after waiting three years, I finally received my green card. Unfortunately, most people with DACA will not be able to adjust their status this way and will need action from Congress.

I’ve lost a lot in my life due to my undocumented status. I have also gained a lot in my life due to DACA. Like me, people who have DACA want to contribute to this country that they call home, but they can’t if they’re not treated as full members of society. Many bright futures that benefit the United States will be lost a permanent solution is created for DACA recipients.

Fatima Ahmed is a designer and former DACA recipient from Sunnyside, New York.

To learn more about what you can do to help people like Fatima, visit www.nilc.org. And you can do more: Call Congress at 1-478-488-8059 and insist that your senators and representatives support and vote for the bipartisan Dream Act now!

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