'To Define Is to Limit' | Sojourners

'To Define Is to Limit'

I absolutely love to read, and anyone who is familiar with Oscar Wilde I’m sure recognizes the quote I have chosen for my title; “To define is to limit.” From the moment I read this in The Picture of Dorian Gray, I thought to myself: this is me; this is how I see the world. Now I know people argue with this quote because a definition is a precise statement of what a word means. But just think of “define” as “label.” When you put a label on someone, you classify and constrict them, which limits them from breaking out their true potential.

For example, when we are constantly talked about as illegal aliens, we are given the image of harsh criminals. This image affects our self esteem and our confidence. Some, like Aly Wane, start to believe that there is something evil inside of them. It also limits us from reaching out to the American people and proving to them that we are not here to cause any harm. We only want the opportunity of seeking a brighter future. We are not criminals. We have done what we had to do, what any human would do, to seek a violence-free life, to keep our families together, or, like me, to pursue an education. I am one of 11 million, and each one of us has a different story to tell.

Since joining this campaign, I have been asked a few times, what would you do if granted deferred action? In order to answer this question I want to go back to my senior year of high school. If you would have asked then what I wanted to do with my life, I would have given you a full, well-thought out plan. I was to attend Indiana University-Bloomington and enroll in Kelley School of Business, where I would study international business or business management, take a few classes related to interior design or real estate, graduate with honors, and obtain a job in Chicago at an interior design or real estate company.

I hoped to be married by 25, start a family by 28, and be well on my way to reaching the higher levels of the corporate ladder. My whole life, I planned to attend college in order to achieve these goals, so I did everything I could think of to get there. Sometimes I can’t comprehend how someone’s life, aspirations, and dreams, can be yanked away by the simple lack of a piece of paper.

I am still that ambitious girl. I still dream of going to college, but in the country I consider my home — not in one where I am unfamiliar with the school system or where I have trouble with the language. I want a family, but I want to finish school first, so what happens to my timeline I had dreamed of?

I have lived my days holding on to a shred of hope. I wake up every day and wish that this will be the day I am allowed to dream again and live with no fear.

“To wish was to hope, and to hope was to expect.” – Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility.

Well I am tired of hoping and tired of wishing. I expect there will be a resolution for the millions of families that have put their trust, their sweat, their tears into being assets to this country.

I decided to be part of the Define American 1 of 11 million campaign because as Oscar Wilde said, “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” We need to remind the American people that we are not the criminals that we are painted to be.

If we were to meet and I did not mention to you that I was undocumented, you would never know. Why? Because I have adopted English as my first language, I have accepted and enjoyed being a part of your customs and culture, and I treasure your values and overall way of life.

Receiving deferred action is receiving a piece of paper that will allow me pursue a college degree and a job worthy of my abilities. It does not change who I am as a person. If you accept me now, why not give me the opportunity to flourish so I can better contribute to the country that has given me so much?

Erika Aldape came to the United States at age 7 with a visitor’s visa. She does not qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals due to attending college in Mexico for three years from 2008 to 2011. She is not in any deportation proceedings and is affirmatively filing for deferred action.