Undocumented Immigrant Speaks Out About Her Status


Fernanda Marroquin is an undocumented immigrant.

When 11-year-old Fernanda Marroquin traveled with her family from Peru to the U.S., she remembers the excitement shared among her and her two siblings. That’s because, she says, her parents told them they were taking them to Disney World.

“I thought we were gonna vacation here!” she laughs. “I told my [extended] family, ‘I’ll see you soon, I’m not gonna be away too long.’ I didn’t know why they were crying so much when we said ‘goodbye.’”

Even after living in the United States for more than a decade, Marroquin, now 21, has never actually made it to Disney World.

She’s been living in the U.S. since her tourism visa expired, and she has no plans of moving back to Peru– her birth country where remembers very little about.

Her parents owned a once-successful restaurant in Lima, Peru, that did so well they took out loans to expand it to the second floor of the building.

When the economy tanked, however, people stopped eating out, Marroquin remembers. Her parents were soon losing a lot of money and they couldn’t afford to send their children to school. They eventually had to sell everything they owned, including their house and restaurant.

“We moved in my grandma’s house. My brother, my sister, my parents and I all lived in one room there. It was very tight.” Marroquin says.

That’s when her parents took a risk. They would come to America on a tourism visa and find opportunity here, even after the visa would expire six months later. “That’s when we became undocumented,” she says, though she didn’t know it at the time. Her parents hoped the U.S. would pass a pro-immigration bill before their children graduated high school. That never happened. Instead, the Marroquin children learned about their statuses as undocumented immigrants after Fernanda’s older sister applied to college and failed to receive in-state tuition.

“I’m not waiting for a federal Dream Act to pass anymore. I’m tired of false promises,” she sighs. Which is why she’s speaking out about her undocumented status. “People have this vision of America where anything is possible. You know, the American Dream is real to a lot of people outside of America,” she says. “My American Dream is being able to provide for my family.”

Marroquin attends Montgomery County Community College, about 45 minutes outside of Philly, although she has aspirations of attending Penn State or Temple University.

“My education is everything to me and everything to my parents. That’s what they came here for.”

But because of her status, she can’t work legally or pay in-state tuition. So paying for college has become a challenge.

State Rep. Tony Payton Jr. of Philadelphia is working to change that, however, and introduced legislation on Monday that would allow undocumented immigrants to attend Pa.’s public schools for the same price as those who legally live in the country, which could eventually allow a path to citizenship, PN reported.

Until something actually does, Marroquin says she’ll continue speaking out and making the best opportunities for herself and her family in a country that she prefers to call her home.

Fernanda Marroquin

5 Responses to “ Undocumented Immigrant Speaks Out About Her Status ”

  1. johnny says:

    As much as this young lady’s struggles are unfortunate I have a very difficult time feeling sympathetic.

    As the descendant of immigrants from Russia, I have heard first hand the difficulties that my ancestors encountered when legally immigrating to the United States in the early 1920s. My family had to come over in stages spanning nearly a decade, leaving the remaining family to endure the pogroms of Eastern Europe and WWI. It has also taken generations for my family to be able to afford college. To come to this country and expect these luxuries, that Americans have worked so hard to attain, to fall into her lap is nothing short of ridiculous and a disrespect to those to immigrated legally. The American Dream is still alive and well to Americans and those who aspire to be. However, cheating the system is no way to obtain it and our legal system takes steps to insure that.

    I realize that this woman was a young child whose parents made this decision for her, however the ignorance and flat out disrespect of American law should not be rewarded. Imagine the example that would set for others seeking to come to the U.S. illegally. However, since deportation is unreasonable with the amount of people in the country illegally, I do believe that there should be some path towards citizenship for them so that they can contribute to the system that they wish to reap from via taxes. Let’s not put the carriage before the horse and give the benefits of citizenship before citizenship is obtained.

  2. Immigrant Soup says:

    In part responding to Johnny:
    I am continually amazed by the level of progenitor-based entitlement I hear from many US citizens when discussing immigrants in general, undocumented immigrants in particular, and DREAMers most specifically. I hear a big helping of this entitlement in your response to this article. As a country that reveres individual initiative, hard work, and dedication to education, from where do you get the notion that a college education is a “luxury” that is only to be obtained through becoming a citizen and enduring several generations of blue collar labor? Where in our country’s lore is it codified that each successive generation of immigrants must start at the bottom of the lower class and work up through the ranks, as it were, from being denigrated and vilified to becoming one of those who are entitled to ”luxuries” as new immigrants come in beneath them?

    Because your family did not achieve college education until they had been in this country for several generations, why do you believe that it must follow that newer immigrants must wait at least as long? Is a US citizen more entitled to live the American Dream if ones ancestors came here on the Mayflower than if one came here during the Potato Famine – or for that matter last week? What about people whose ancestors came over via the Bering Land Bridge? This quickly gets ridiculous. Sorry, Johnny, there is no caste system, no preference for length of family residence, you are entitled to none of the credibility you seem to seek because of your ancestors’ struggles and sacrifices to bring family over here, however difficult it may have been. There is no aristocracy here, we’re all in the same soup. It’s in the very fabric of our democracy, I believe, whether the founding fathers intended it to be extended to recent immigrants or not.

    ‘We’ need to get over this notion of “my ancestors had it harder than yours (or were here longer than yours)therefor I am more worthy as an ‘American’”.

  3. annie says:

    Those who came here illegally and expected someone to wave a magic wand and make them American citizens are delusional. Citizenship is earned. Her parents came here with the intention to defraud. Pity she doesn’t remember Peru. I am having a problem remembering an America where laws are enforced. Of the two sides, I believe mine is much more critical. The founding fathers did not intend for this country to belong to everyone. The first 7 words of the constitution are “we the people of the United States”. The majority of the Bill of Rights address “the people”. Read the intent of the 14th amendment and the notes by those who were there then. There was never an intent to give citizenship to illegals’ offspring. It is the right of this countrry to define who is a citizen and who is not; not the lawbreakers who come here. Foreigners come to the USA because they believe it is the best place on earth to live and then they spend the rest of their time here trying to change ot to fit their needs. Time to recognize the rights of the American people. We come first in our country; if you don’t like it leave. Yes, we can deport all of you.

  4. johnny says:

    Let me set the record straight. I think “Immigrant Soup” misunderstood my comment. “Immigrant Soup” is lumping both legal and illegal immigrants in the same group and assuming that I believe that they should equal standing under the law. This is absolutely untrue. I believe that U.S. citizens, no matter the length of time, should be treated equally under the law. However, in this woman’s case she is neither a U.S. citizen nor legal tax-paying resident. There is a major difference between the two.

    Additionally, I believe all US citizens should have access to quality and affordable education. However, I do not believe that a college education is an entitlement. The Declaration of Independence does not state “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of a Bachelors Degree.” As for non- U.S. citizens, there are paths for them to pursue a college education in America through visas.

    As for my anecdote about my family, that was only to show the value and effort people put into emigrating to this country legally. I am so thankful that we are in the same “soup” as “Immigrant Soup” mentioned. It has enable my family to get where they are today. Perhaps, I do feel a bit “entitled” to the benefits because I am an American citizen, much as a British citizen is entitled to British benefits or a Peruvian citizen is in Peru. However, I would never feel entitled to those things that come with citizenship of another country.

  5. [...] hope no one is waiting for the DREAM Act and other pro-immigrant legislation to pass. It’s erroneous to think that incremental reforms [...]

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