So Sam lived with this bearing on her conscience, doing everything she could to protect herself and her family. She grew up too fast, serving as her parents’ translator while bottling up her envy for those who had the opportunity to enjoy freedom deep inside. “It creates a mental stress that builds over the years,” she said. “You want to live in the shadows, in fear of any information leaking and getting you deported. It’s unhealthy for any person, and we do it a lot, immigrants.”
But it’s not a tunnel with no light at its end. Today, the dreamers who make up Sam are in their second and third years at SCU. They find solace in Jiménez’s stories, the Jesuit community, and in SCU’s LEAD Scholars Program, confident that their relationships are genuine, not facades. In turn, they’ve grown the confidence to let us in behind their walls to hear their truths.
Easing the Path
As an immigration lawyer, Hendrik Pretorius JD ’07 is intimately familiar with the ins and outs of U.S. immgration policy. But it wasn’t a law classroom where Hendrik first dealt with legal paperwork. From country to country he and his family followed his father’s job as a South African government worker.
As his father neared potential retirement, the family was faced with a decision: return to South Africa, or move to the U.S. permanently. After years of moving from place to place, the family would move one more time: to California.
“It really came down to mine and my sister’s futures and what my parents wanted to do to give us more opportunities. They did that, certainly, at a detriment to themselves,” Pretorius says. Because they immigrated, Pretorius’ parents had to push off retirement in order to support the family, something they would not have had to do in South Africa.
It’s a sacrifice Pretorius is grateful for every day. “The reality is just that the level of college education in South Africa is not as high as it is in the U.S. Here, if you work hard in school, then you can find a job that will lead into your career, whereas that’s not necessarily the case in South Africa.”
He and his family went through the legal immigration process quickly and smoothly, selected for the Diversity Lottery Program when they first arrived. Pretorius has been a U.S. citizen for about 20 years. “We were very lucky compared to what other people have to go through,” he says.
Now, Pretorius is the CEO of ImmiPartner, where he helps with foreign-born investors and entrepreneurs, as well as hiring Silicon Valley companies, deal with immigration issues.