One immigrant’s story

By Nathaly Sierra

Immigrants who over stay their U.S. visas often face dire consequences. J. Lee, 38, was detained over the summer at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center for overstaying a tourist visa. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Carlos Pico was born in the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador in 1997. He immigrated to the United States with his parents in 2003, when he was only 6 years old. After graduating high school in 2014, he attended Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and graduated in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering.

Pico was able to become a resident and eventually a citizen in 2013 when his mother became a citizen. Right now, he works as a biotech for one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, Merck & Co.

We recently discussed by telephone his experience in the United States and how he feels regarding topics, such as the DACA program and the Trump administration’s response to illegal immigrants.

Why did you or your parents choose to move to the United States?

They wanted to be more financially stable. They found moving here was the best option for them to find a better job and a better education for me. We first achieved our tourist visas and my parents told me we were going in vacation, but I remember having the feeling that we would stay for longer.

What was your first impression?

Because of how young I was I did not think much of the whole situation. I quickly had to get used to new things like learning a new language and being around people that did not share the same culture as me.

Tell me more about that time in your life.

At the beginning, I recall being the quiet one in my class because I did not speak the language, of course. I missed my family back in Ecuador, so my parents always made sure to keep contact with them. As years went by, I felt more comfortable with the culture and the language. I remember trying my best to do well in school to make my parents proud and happy.

How has it benefited you?

            I am grateful to my parents because if it had not been for their efforts and hard work, I would not have become who I am today. I would say it has benefited me more in the aspect of education. If we had stayed in Ecuador, it would have been harder for me to find and afford a good education.

President Trump has described immigrants as “rapists” “gang members” and has said things, such as “These are not people. They are animals.” How does that make you feel?

I think his words have had great impact on his followers. It has created racism and has opened the doors for many to be hateful towards many hardworking immigrants. I do not believe all immigrants deserve to be called these words and it is even more shocking if these words come from the president of the United States, a country that is basically founded on immigration.

What is your opinion on the Trump administration efforts to end the DACA program?

Even though I am not part of this program, I believe there is a lot of talent and hardworking people that deserve to have this opportunity. Without DACA, this country would be losing many people that could teach others about the world, languages, culture, religions and more.  Like them, I have been in this country since such young age, so all I know is this and here. In my opinion, the program has probably been the best thing to happen for these young immigrants that are only trying to earn a good education and feel like that they also are part of this country.

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