My name is Rosario Lopez. I am a Tar Heel; I am also undocumented. I am not the only one who is both of those things.
On June 14, two friends and I began a hunger strike that lasted two weeks. We are asking U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., to co-sponsor the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) Act — legislation that would allow us to earn legal residence in the country we call home.
We have remained silent for too long — afraid to speak out. But silence is no longer an option.
We want people to understand that we are not criminals. We pay our taxes using Individual Tax Identification Numbers provided by the Internal Revenue Service. We cannot receive welfare or Social Security, but we do contribute to the economy.
We are criminalized in the media when we are called “illegal aliens.” This robs us of our humanity.
Why should I become a criminal on my 18th birthday?
I was born in Mexico, but I built my life here. My dreams and goals belong to this country.
Our life in Mexico was hard; the strike we held wasn’t the first time I went hungry. Some days we woke up with both empty stomachs and an empty refrigerator.
Out of desperation for their family, my parents decided to come to the United States. We left everything behind — we had to — in search of a better future. I was 13 years old when we left.