Life as an Undocumented Immigrant – Rainy Leonor

Writing Wrongs Katherine Coble Student Writer

Katherine Coble

Writing Wrongs is a journalistic magazine that features stories about social issues written by students. Last year’s issue, “Untold, Unseen, Unheard: Perspectives on Immigration,” contains interviews with immigrants detailing their journeys and perspectives. This is a summary of a piece originally written for the magazine by Katherine Coble of Franklin & Marshall College.

Early Life

San Pedro de Macorís is a town in the Dominican Republic where geographic beauty contrasts with poverty and violence. Despite this, Rainy Leonor felt happy thanks to strong bonds with her family and community. She lived with her grandmother and six other children after her father moved to the United States. After her sixth birthday, Rainy’s father and grandmother arranged for her and her younger brother to immigrate to New York City in 2002.

A New World and New Discoveries

The unfamiliar city and language barrier were intimidating for an immigrant like Rainy. Her cousins assisted her with learning English, and her aunt played American artists like Alicia Keys and Eminem. Rainy’s father was arrested on drug charges the same year she arrived and was deported in 2007.

From there, her aunts and uncles raised her while she moved between New York, Reading, and Virginia. Rainy began to feel like a burden to her family, and at 13 she learned of her undocumented immigrant status. This made financial aid for college and obtaining a driver’s license impossible. Rainy felt robbed of a childhood.

Rainy’s father called after she graduated high school, but Rainy responded with anger. She yelled at him, said she hated him and blamed him for her difficult upbringing. But her father understood. He was naïve and impatient. He desperately wanted to be with his children, so he ignored the long-term consequences of his short-term actions. Rainy regretted her outburst to her father and empathizes with parents in similar situations.

Hope Arrives

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) gave Rainy and other immigrants hope. She saved money to pay the application fee by babysitting and cleaning houses. She got a job at Burger King and enrolled at Reading Area Community College with a DACA scholarship.

Rainy now works as a community organizer at Make the Road Pennsylvania. She hopes to attend law school and work as an immigration lawyer as a way to help her people and her community.


Despite still being an undocumented immigrant, Rainy has come to terms with her life and is proud to have immigrated. She enjoys her life in America but advises her siblings to immigrate legally. Although the future of DACA is uncertain, Rainy remains optimistic and continues to aid her community.

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If you would like to be a student writer or advisor for the 2018 issue of Writing Wrongs, click below for more information.

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For more stories like Rainy’s, click on the image to buy the full 2017 issue of Writing Wrongs.

Writing Wrongs Immigrant Issue 2017

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