I missed out on a lot of things because I didn’t have a Social Security number. It’s like you can’t go forward.
Kiran Jahangir was 8 when she, her brother and mother moved to the U.S. from Pakistan, to be reunited with her father after five years apart.
She vividly remembers the night she landed at the Chicago International airport. As the family wandered around the airport, unable to communicate with anyone, she remembers gripping her mother’s hand so tightly her fingers turned white.
Her family is part of the 40 percent of immigrants who didn’t cross a border illegally but overstayed their visas. The family settled in the Dallas suburb of Oak Cliff, yet the feeling of not quite belonging remained with Kiran.
While she attended school and had a seemingly “normal” childhood, there were stark reminders that her situation was different than other kids her age.
“We always had to lie about why we couldn’t do what we couldn’t do,” she says.
Legally, she couldn’t do things such as drive a car or get a job. Being undocumented meant living in the shadows.
“I felt like I couldn’t fully live my life,” she says.
After 16 years in the U.S., going back to Pakistan was not an option for Kiran or her family. Pakistan was as foreign as the United States once was.
“We could go back, but we would be aliens there too.”
For Kiran, the United States means more than a place to live. She credits American doctors with diagnosing her with cancer and lupus when it was still early enough to be treated. She feels she owes finding her passion in life to her American education.
She is currently pursuing her master’s in childhood development at Texas Women’s University.
Kiran was approved for Deferred Action in December 2012. She made a decision to relive what she missed during her childhood and adolescent years.
In the months since becoming “DACAmented,” 24-year-old Kiran is ready to explore and learn new things. She is ready to live her life.