Undocumented, Homeless and Stranded in San Francisco

Young, energetic, and full of life, I only wanted what was best for my family and me. After completing high school back in my country of birth, I wanted to study abroad. I always dreamt of the U.S. In 2016, I started filling out my applications, and I was determined to achieve my dream. Luckily, I had all the support I needed, and after so many applications finally I got a response for a U.S. sponsorship. This was good news and I was so excited that I would even have the chance to get on a plane. 2017 was probably to be the happiest of all years I have been on this earth.

It took me a few months to go through the whole process from application up to admission, but finally, it was done. I bid farewell to my family and friends and then set off for New York. From there, I travelled to San Francisco where I would study for two  years before heading back home and applying for a different program if I would still be interested. My years of study were awesome, with a few challenges here and there, but I was able to overcome them and graduate. I had the chance to invite my family and friends over for the graduation, and they headed back home.

With the two years down, it was my time to head back home, but that was not to happen. Life in the U.S. was much faster and better compared to my home country. This is where I wanted to be, but I did not have any means of getting documented. If I wanted to stick around, It was a matter of choosing between going back home and trying my luck once again or staying here without immigration documents, finding means of survival while risking deportation and a temporary or permanent denial of entry to the U.S. While still in school, my best friend and I managed to get a part-time job where they did not ask for any documentation. This helped us with food and secure housing with the help of a U.S. citizen who did all the paperwork for us as long as we did not delay paying his rent. 

Fast forward to 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic was already setting in most countries. The U.S. was not spared and everything was disrupted. Businesses and workplaces were really affected and some closed down. How could this happen at such a time! This is what happened to our workplace when we needed it most. Our employer had to lay us off with nothing since we weren’t under any employment contract. Sad but true, we had to take in the bad news and deal with it. Now we had no job, which meant no income and no rent, and our host became hostile and we had to leave the premises. This is how we became homeless and have been ever since. I just hope that things will stabilize again, and I can find another job since our employer decided to venture into a different field and move away from San Francisco.

A piece of advice for anyone coming to the U.S. either on a visitor’s or student’s visa: once your time is up, please just head back home and try other means of becoming a permanent resident. At this moment, I am still confused and don’t know which option to choose — wait for assistance or just present myself to the authorities and get deported at once.