I am an African, but I am also an American now

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In 2009, I officially applied for the legalization of my immigration status in the United States. I was 17 years old then. Now, I am 23.

This Tuesday was the last hearing date. It has been seven long years. I left home as a boy, but now I am a young adult waiting to hear his predestination.

Good or bad, I wanted to receive an answer. I needed one. For seven years, my life has been in limbo. Now, it was time to get clarity and find ways to move forward.

As you can imagine, I arrived early at court. I was nervous, scared but hopeful. My parents had prayed for me. That’s what we know back home: prayers. It might take centuries, generations or even seven years for the prayers to succeed, but we believe they will eventually. God has his own timeline.

Fortunately, the trial started later than usual. As an ‘unstable believer’, it gave me the opportunity to quietly catch up on my prayers. Anyway, prayers are the only things we have left in time of vulnerability. As I sat in the courtroom waiting for the judge to elaborate on her decision, all types of vivid memories crossed my mind; most precisely the different ups and down.

Despite my status or lack of, I was able to go to school. I have a college degree now and America has given me the best educational resources that I can dream of. In addition, I have met the most hard-working, courageous and humane folks over the past few years.

However, I cannot forget all the missed opportunities due to my situation and the psychological and emotion trauma that derived from it. Every time I received a phone call telling me my dad or mom was sick or hospitalized, my first thought was always to pray for them not to die because I could not assist to their burial or say my last good-bye.

The thought of losing my parents haunted me. It made me helpless. In addition, I grew up far from my parents and those who watched me grow from a baby to a boy. Moreover, after my college graduation, I was then deprived of health insurance until recently. Falling sick was not an option.

Most importantly, the seven years exposed me to all sorts of lawyers. Some of them with their decency and courage exemplified the beauty and strength of every day people while others represented the most horrific features of the humans’ species.

To those one, every clients were an opportunity to express their insatiable greed. Even a tea party activist or leader would have been more humane. Unfortunately, these voracious lawyers incessantly fail to realize these clients are just a case sitting on their desk, but that case is someone’s dreams and aspirations.

In few seconds, minutes, or hours, I was waiting to hear my fate. It was a matter of life or death situation for me. As the judge started speaking, every word she iterated brought a drop of tear in my eyes.

At the end of her iteration, I then realized the country that I had received me as a boy had finally accepted me. I was now legal and documented. Tears of good fortune and remembrance kept dropping but this time, it was all clear.

The past few years have forever changed the core of my character. This essay is a celebration of my newfound freedom while remembering the millions of people who still have their life in limbo or remain helpless.

When policymakers are debating or solemnly representing their campaign donors, millions of people are living in fear, uncertainty and doubt for simply trying to get a better opportunity for them and their children. Many of the undocumented or or so-called illegal

Aliens come from places where insecurity is vibrant, opportunities are scarce and destitute poverty is endemic. More often than not, coming and remaining illegally in the United States is a product of our environment and luck. It is a reactionary response. Here at least, the illusion or the possibility of the American dream can at least keep us going.

The essay is also an acceptance of my journey. I am an African, but deep down I also know that I am more than an African. I am constantly reminded this reality of my life when I am around my African friends or family.

I immigrated to the United States at a young age and now, I realized that my culture and way of life have been forever diluted. In no way celebrating my new-found affiliation, a disapproval of my African roots. It is simply a product of my journey.

It is worth remembering that my identity is a collection of my experience and journey toward self-discovery. It is not this stagnant entity that society continuously bestowed upon me.

As already stated by the old historical tradition, “a man without the knowledge of where he has been, knows not where he is or where is going.” I am the one who knows what and who I am and went through. And to all those left hanging, just remember that there will be an end to it one day. In the meantime, I wish you luck and will keep you in my prayers.


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