My name is David Chung and I am currently 23 years old. I was born in South Korea and immigrated to the United States when I was three years old. I came to New York, and this is the place I have called home for the past twenty years.
I have attended school in New York since I was in kindergarten and for most of my time in secondary school, I never felt different from my U.S. born friends. Since I immigrated when I was only three, I learned English fairly quickly and rarely spoke my native Korean language outside of my home. I pledged allegiance to the U.S. flag every day at school and considered myself more American than Korean.
It was not until my junior year in high school that I learned I was different. As I was applying for colleges and thinking about the financial aid that I would need, I realized that I did not have a social security number. After a talk with my mother, I discovered that I was barred from many of the rites of passage that my friends took for granted, such as driving and having a summer job. It was a confusing time in my life and I wondered whether I even belonged in this country.
I decided to attend a city college known as Hunter College because it was affordable. I did not have the opportunity to enjoy college life because I had to work a lot after classes to afford the tuition. I felt that I had to study and work twice as hard just to keep up with my documented peers. I also felt a deep sense of hopelessness that I had never felt before. It was a strong feeling that I would never amount to anything and that even with a college education, I had no future in a country that I loved and to which I wanted to contribute.
In 2012, I became more involved in the immigrant rights movement because I saw the tangible effects of advocacy and community organizing. In June 2012, when Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was announced, I decided that I wanted to contribute and make a difference through my actions. Since then I have told my story countless times to show that undocumented immigrants are just like everyone else- with hopes and dreams. I also wanted to change the narrative in the media about undocumented immigrants and show that this is not only a Latino issue but an issue that encompasses people from many different backgrounds. I am currently working on organizing the Asian American community around the need for immigration reform and for a way to stop innocent families from being separated due to the inhumane deportation system that the U.S. has in place. I hope to do my best to make a difference in my community.