NEW YORK (PIX11) – Pamela Dominguez looks like any other college student.
She’s 20-years-old spends a lot of time on her phone and calls Queens – home.
But you might not have guessed that Pamela is also an undocumented illegal immigrant brought to this country at the age of three by her mother Patricia (whose last name is being withheld).
“I should have the same rights as everybody else. I lived here. This is my country. This is who I am. This is where I’m from,” Pamela told PIX11.
Pamela didn’t find out she was in the U.S. illegally until she was a teenager.
“What really hit me was when I wasn’t able to get financial aid, and go to my dream school. So I had to lower my standards, I guess you could say, and go into a community college. So that’s when it really hit me,” said Pamela.
So you can imagine how she reacted Thursday when she learned the Senate passed the most aggressive immigration reform in a generation.
Pamela added, “I was just really, really excited. Like it meant a lot to me. I could actually see my dreams become a reality.”
The legislation – which now faces an uphill battle towards passage in the contentious House provides a clear path to citizenship for millions of people just like Pamela.
“The bill has generated a level of support that we believe it would be impossible for the house to ignore”, said Sen. Charles Schumer of New York.
“If immigration reform is going to work, it’s essential that the American people have the confidence that it’s being done correctly,” said Republican House Speaker John Boehner.
Michael Wildes is an immigration attorney.
“Congress is embittered when it comes to homeland security. Its impassioned about protecting our borders. But it doesn’t have enough handcuffs, airplanes and officers to remove 11 million people here,” Wildes told PIX11.
If Pamela is optimistic about her chances at citizenship then her mother is simply overwhelmed.
Patricia desperately wants this idea of citizenship for her children, and the possibility of achieving the American Dream that was so out of reach from Mexico 17 years ago.
“It’s very, very happy. It’s one dream, it’s for me and for my daughter, my son. It’s no separation. It’s not in Mexico. It’s here. Thank you so much for the opportunity here,” Said Patricia.
“They didn’t ask me if I wanted to come. I was brought here. I was brought here for a better future, for a better life — for a better education,” said Pamela.