A DREAMer who solves the world’s problems

“I was in the robotics team when my professor asked me: “Do you prefer to be deported as an engineer or as a cleaning maid?” I remember it very clearly. I rather that there were no deportations whatsoever”

Photo: DULCE MATUZ
English 18/12/2016 16:44 Actualizada 11:13
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Dulce Matuz became well aware of her status as an undocumented immigrant just at the time when she was studying towards her Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering at the Arizona State University: “I was in the robotics team when my professor asked me: “Do you prefer to be deported as an engineer or as a cleaning maid?” I remember it very clearly. I rather that there were no deportations whatsoever”, Matuz notes in the telephone interview she holds with EL UNIVERSAL from Phoenix, Arizona.

Matuz is co-founder of the DREAM act Coalition. She was acknowledged as one of Time’s Magazine most influential people in 2012 and received the American citizenship only last September, “one of the reasons I wanted to become an American citizen is because I have always longed to cast my vote. This right is often overlooked, not only in the U.S. and Mexico, but in other parts of the world”.

A native of northeast state of Sonora, Dulce migrated to the U.S. at the age of 15 to reunite with her mother, “I remember arriving in the evening of a 4th of July, I saw the fireworks and that sight is something I will never forget. It was a coincidence that bears a double meaning for me. I took a twelve-hour, tiring, bus trip with only my visa, from Mexico to a small village in California, much smaller than a city like Phoenix anyway”. Matuz describes her last days in Sonora as bittersweet, “I longed to be with my mother, I really did, but, at the same time, I was leaving my siblings and friends behind; it was much more important for me to be with her. It was sort of an emotional roller-coaster really, kind of a bittersweet feeling”.

Matuz opened her own real-state business American Traditions Realty in 2013, after having entered the field eleven years earlier, “it was really out of an economical need because it is very difficult to find a job that you would label as “normal” when you lack immigration papers. I like this job because you help people achieve one of their greatest accomplishments in life, at the same time, this is something that can be quite stressful for many people as, unfortunately, Latinos are always victims of frauds not only as regards immigration, but in mortgages and other areas, due to the lack of command of English”.

A frustrated dream

“It took me five and a half years to complete my university studies as not only did I face the problem of not having a proper immigration status, but I was behind in school. I was lagging in the language, as well as with the Math and Science foundations required” Matuz notes ruefully.
I was half through my university studies when “a wave of anti-immigration laws” took over Arizona. These included that students in my position had to pay foreign students tuition, which meant that my tuition fee would change from US$2,500 to US$8,500 per term. The news came as a heavy blow and as constant reminder of “the obstacles that you have to overcome for being an undocumented immigrant”. I then got a scholarship, that combined with my family’s support and my work income, helped me cover all the expenses”.
All these anti-immigration measures pushed Matuz to become an activist in favor of young people that, much like herself, seek to graduate from the degree of their choice.

When asked about what it meant not to serve as an engineer, Matuz adds: “Even today, it is a frustrated dream, really. I still think that I will be able to pursue it, that I have to practice proper engineering someday. When I was first explained about what engineers do, I was told that they were in charge of solving problems. We engineers solve the world’s problems. In a way, I know that I’m solving problems of an immigration nature through activism, yet I would have liked to be part of companies like Google or Facebook. I know that everything happens for a reason and activism instilled in me a passion that I won’t replace”.

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