Life as an Undocumented Longhorn

by Anayeli Marcos

I am one of the few who did not laugh at my professor’s joke about his favorite taco truck driver being deported.  I am one of the students who stood in line mortified during freshmen orientation because I could not get a student id card without a state issued id.  I am one of the quiet students who avoids telling her academic advisor anything about why life is hard.

I am 1 of the 600 undocumented students on the University of Texas at Austin’s campus.  I graduated in the top 10% of my high school class and I earned my spot at UT Austin.  However, coming to UT was different for me.

Like most undocumented parents, mine told me not to disclose being undocumented.  There is a constant anxiety of someone finding out and reacting negatively.  So, I stayed quiet at UT.  It was not until my second semester at UT that I found my home away from home. University Leadership Initiative (ULI) is a student-led organization that advocates for immigrant rights and education around the city of Austin and the state as a whole. I got to meet other students like myself, and they helped me through the process of accepting my status and not being ashamed of it. Since joining ULI, we have teamed up with the International Office in order to provide more information and resources for undocumented students and also educators on this campus and around the Austin community.

This past semester, I spent my time worrying that once again the legislature would attack my ability to access in-state tuition and likely end my college career.  One Texas State Senator remarked that in-state tuition should be limited because “Texas children come first.”  Having lived in Texas since the age of six, I consider myself a Texas child.  I plan to use my education to live and contribute to the larger Texas community.

My status as a student at UT is constantly questioned by policy makers.  My fellow students and even professors make inappropriate references to the “illegals” and “aliens” taking jobs and spots at UT.  I live in constant fear that someone will show up and tell me to leave UT and leave the country.  And yet, I have hopes.  I have goals and ambition.  As an undocumented longhorn, I will use my education to construct my own American dream.