News & Media

Colorado ASSET bill one step toward life goals

Human Dignity & Just Immigration Reform

April 12, 2013  |  The Denver Post  |  Link to article

By Fabian Dominguez

Last month, when I sat in the gallery of the state Capitol to see the Colorado ASSET bill finally pass after 10 years of trying, it was one of the most amazing feelings in the world. It felt like when you stand in a dark room and let the light in. It was as if a whole new world of opportunity was placed in front of me.

The Colorado ASSET bill (which is currently awaiting Gov. John Hickenlooper's signature) will allow young immigrants like me to afford college by paying the same tuition rates as our fellow students who were born here.

I came to the United States when I was 5 years old with my parents. I learned early on that I was undocumented, so I knew that I would have to struggle throughout my life. But it wasn't until high school that it really hit me. I was always a good student, but I couldn't go to college as easily as the rest of my friends. It came close to shattering all of my hopes and dreams, but I had the fortune of having a very good friend who motivated me to go back to school.

I've been in college since the spring of 2009 working on my associate's degree, and I've been paying three times the fees of other students. So far I've paid more than $20,000 to go to school, and I am not even halfway to getting my degree.

As a leader with Together Colorado, I helped advocate for ASSET, and winning it feels like such a milestone because I want to have an impact in this world. My dream is to be a business owner, to own my own gym and help the Latino community in getting healthier. Eventually, I'd like to get involved in politics to help change policies that would benefit the people around me. ASSET makes those dreams seem easier to reach.

But as happy as I am about the opportunities before me, now I want to make sure my family isn't left behind. When I was younger, my mother had to work nights, so I only saw her for an hour or so every evening. My father worked construction and when he came home he was often so tired that I had to help raise my brother and sister from a very early age. Then, in 2009, my father was deported for a traffic violation and taken away from our family.

That's why we need citizenship. So my family can live together without fear. So my mother can be the business owner that I know she wants to be. So my brother can study to become a computer engineer. Citizenship will give us the opportunity to come out of hiding and be the normal people we so desire to be.

I would like to thank all the state legislators, both Democrat and Republican, who voted for the ASSET bill. Thanks to you I will be able to provide the life for my family that I feel they deserve. But now I ask my leaders in Congress, Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, and Rep. Mike Coffman, to fight for immigration reform.

As dreamers, we've been fighting for the chance to become citizens, but our parents have dreams, too. My mother has given me all that she could in life, so it's my turn to fight for her. She's not a criminal for seeking to feed her children and put a roof over our heads. My family has been in this country for 17 years already, building a life and we feel like Americans now in everything but paperwork. We don't want to wait decades more to assume the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

A long path or one that's contingent on arbitrary measures of border security means we could wait forever. That's why my community, my family and I are asking to earn our path to citizenship in seven years. With a clear and direct path, my family and the 11 million of us across the country can become the Americans we already are in our hearts.

Fabian Dominguez lives in Aurora.

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