The Reality of Life as an Undocumented Immigrant

He would know. He recently traveled to California to visit a sister he hadn't seen in 14 years. Air travel simply wasn't an option.

"This pathway is just about feeling human," Kim said.

Their families have carved out lives in this country. They've bought homes and paid taxes. They've celebrated milestones the American way. And while that American way is varied and nuanced, these three young people wouldn't know how to be Mexican, how to be Kenyan.

Francisco recently filled out an application to work in Italy. He couldn't say he was American because he doesn't have the papers to prove it, but Mexican?

"I struggled to write it," he said.

And America, for better or worse, has formed these people, molded them into complex young adults who are not afraid to speak publicly about undocumented life. Young adults who guard family secrets because they are afraid. Young adults who sit in classrooms at one of the nation's elite universities and belong there.

"I wouldn't be Kimberly," Kim said, "If I wasn't in America."

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