Community Leaders Organizing Undocumented Dreamers, or CLOUD, is a recently formed organization in Contra Costa County that is joining with Bay Area allies to empower and educate the community about the struggles of illegal immigrants while collectively striving to achieve equity.

To help the community understand their personal struggles, CLOUD leaders share their stories.

Yaquelin Valencia

  • Age: 20

  • Attends Contra Costa College, lives in Richmond

    "My mom brought me here when I was 2 years old. She left my two other sisters in Mexico.

    When I was 4 years old, she left me here with my aunt and went back to get my sisters. I cried for my mom. She was gone for six months.

    When my sisters came, they were jealous of me because I had some things they didn't have. My sisters have that grudge because my mom left them there and brought me first.

    I think growing up, I didn't really have a struggle being undocumented, because that never crossed my mind that I wasn't going to be able to get a job.

    My mom was doing construction -- hard labor -- for about 15 years. My dad stayed in Mexico. I never had contact with him until I was probably 18. He wasn't married to my mom.

    Until I got in high school -- I think it was probably my junior year -- I didn't know I wasn't going to get financial aid. I went to Kennedy High School in Richmond.

    My mom said: 'Get good grades.' She didn't know.


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    My senior year, I was vice president, school board rep, I was attending City Council meetings. I never focused on my immigration status.

    My mom married an American and applied for her residency, but the lawyers never asked about her children. Other lawyers say they should have filed for us, as well.

    I went to the first CLOUD event and joined. I didn't know anything about deferred action. They did an amazing job and I like how they're coordinating.

    That's why I'm part of CLOUD. I want to make a difference."

    Theresa Harrington covers education. Contact her at 925-945-4764. Follow her at Twitter.com/tunedtotheresa. Read her education blog at IBAbuzz.com/onassignment.