Carlos Padilla is a DREAMer. Like the other estimated 2.1 million DREAMers, Carlos was brought as a child to the United States, the only home he has ever known. In this article, he writes about the fear he lived with because of our broken immigration system and the lifeline provided by Roberta Lindeman, his high school teacher.
by Carlos Padilla
For a long time my future was uncertain and hopeless. I came to the United State at the age of two, with my single mother, and two older siblings. I entered the education system while in pre-school. Making my way through school, into higher education and into American society was a road I was afraid of because of my immigration status.
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It wasn’t until I met Roberta Lindeman, my mentor, best friend, and educator, that things changed. Lindeman teaches at Chief Sealth High School in Seattle. She understood my pain and frustration. She believed in my potential to become something greater in life, to become a leader.
As a DREAMer I thank all the educators like Mrs. Lindeman who have provided a roadmap to dream for many of us. You have been right there next to us, ready to advocate and be outspoken about your commitment to your students’ future. Educators play a key role in our lives. They are the family that provides the support not only to understand the system but also to make our mark.
I made my mark thank to Mrs. Lindeman’s support when I was able to be reunited with my mother at the Nogales, Arizona, border fence on June 11, 2013, after a five-year painful family separation (New York Times, Immigrants Reach Beyond a Legal Barrier for a Reunion). I was once again reunited with my mother, if only for a couple of hours. It was the hardest and happiest day of my life, because all I had wished for such a long time was to be able to feel my mother’s warmth and hold her in my arms.
(In the video below, Carlos is one of three DREAMers reunited with their mothers through a border fence.)
Mrs. Lindeman not only supported me with financial contributions, but more important, she cared about my well-being and knew that this was the right thing to do. She was the one who during those five years that my mother was gone helped me always think of tomorrow.
I graduated from Chief Sealth High School as Student Body Vice President with honors and recognition from various parts of the community. Because of the lessons I learned and support I received from Lindeman, I was admitted into the University of Washington and I am now pursuing a B.A. in Political Science.
Taking on the challenge that Mrs. Lindeman did is something few people are willing to do, but I know that there are many educators out there like Mrs. Lindeman, and for that I thank you all.
Let’s continue pushing for One DREAM, a dream where all students have an equal opportunity to a prosperous and promising future. Your commitment to DREAMers will never be forgotten and can never be repaid. Thank you.