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start working,” I say. “I’ll give up cheer and get a job.” If they can work
with fake papers, so can I.
Jasmine,” Dad says. “You have to focus on school.”
I think. Why focus on school if we can’t afford to send me to college anyway?
Not without a scholarship, and I can’t get one if I’m not a citizen or a legal
not,” Mom says. She reaches across the table and grabs my hands. “You need to
keep your focus on school. There must be scholarships or grants other than government
ones. Maybe we can take out a private loan or something.”
I want to say. She’s in denial, I think.
figure it out. You deserve to go,” she tells me.
deserve better than cleaning up other people’s messes, Mom,” I say. “You could
get a different kind of job.”
scoffs. “That’s not going to happen without citizenship. Or at least another
set of fake papers.”
tired of lying,” Mom says. “We need to do things the right way.”
tells us that she’s found several lawyers who help undocumented people, but
they’re all shady. “It’s a scam. They want too much money. Isn’t there an
alliance out there of lawyers who want to help people like us who are already
here and have been for years?”
to leave it alone,” Dad says. “Fly under the radar. These issues are debated on
the news every day. Politicians never solve the problems. They just talk.
Worrying about it isn’t going to fix anything.”
your boss finds out you’re illegal?” Mom asks. “How do you know my supervisor won’t
call your boss? How do you know they won’t send someone to the house? Is that
how you want to live? Just waiting for the hammer to fall?”
no hammer,” Dad says. “We just got unlucky. Thousands of undocumented workers
live in Los Angeles. What are they going to do? Deport all of us? Take a month
off. You need the break.”
Mom says. “We need the money. I’ll get another job. I’ve done it before. I can
do it again. It just might take time to find the right one.”
our arguments, I love how my mother can be so tough. She may have a little
breakdown, but then she’s back up on her feet, fighting for herself again.
my room and pull the award letter out of my jewelry box. There’s a contact
email at the top. Suzanne Roberts. Liaison for the United States Department of
immediately type out a message on my phone apologizing for being so late and
wondering if I can still attend the dinner. Can they schedule a last-minute
flight for me? Am I too late? Did I miss the greatest opportunity I’ve had in
my whole life?