Interview with DACA Recipient Sagar Patagundi
Name: Sagar Patagundi
Family size: 5
Occupation: Program Manager
Tell us about yourself! At what age did you arrive to the U.S. and do you have any memories of that?
I arrived to the U.S at the age of 11 in 2002. I barely remember any memories of being in India. I just have blurry images that I can recall but all of it is like a dream at this point.
Was there a particular moment when you learned about your immigration status? Did that have an immediate impact on your life or plans?
I learned about my status when I was getting close to high school graduation. I realized that after my visas were overstayed I would be completely undocumented in the country. My two brothers, my mom, and I were relying on and hoping that my father’s work visa would get approved so he can extend out to us as well. But my father was rejected his work permit visa three times, the last time he was told that he was way too overqualified for the position he was applying for. I knew without having legal documents, I would be unable to attend college. All my friends in high school were getting their driver’s license and driving while my excuse would be “my parents are strict so they won’t let me get it yet”. My father got stuck in India in 2005 when he went the last time to get his visa approval. The U.S. Embassy took his 10-year visitor visa and revoked it making it unable for my father to return to reunite with us.
What advice would you give to yourself or someone else in your shoes at that time?
My advice to anyone in that situation would be that, do not be afraid and hide your status. Instead, talk more about it, be open about it, and reach out to local organizations for help.
What type of new opportunities or experiences did you have with DACA?
With DACA I was able to stop living under the fear of deportation. I was able to work legally and get a job to pay my way through school out of pocket. I was able to finance my first brand new car and buy my own 3 bed 3 bath home when I was 25. Because of DACA I was able to get a job with the largest tech company in the world after college, and got so many opportunities to travel and move to southern California to seek more opportunities.
What made you decide to share your story? Has your life been different since you ‘revealed’ your immigration status?
I decided to share my story because I was tired of hiding in the shadows. I was tired of my Indian community not coming forward and speaking on the situation because everyone is afraid to.
Do you have any thoughts or experiences about your personal story redefining and reshaping the future of our country?
I think because of DACA I’ve been contributing to the economy by paying a large amount in taxes. Because of DACA, I am able to use my knowledge and experience to improve the future of this country by giving my talents to my company to improve everyday activities.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about you and/or your family’s immigration story?
Couple of months ago, my father’s green-card was finally approved after 15 years of waiting. I was able to see him for the first time after 15 years. He was able to see what all I have made for myself and how I have grown my empire without my mom’s or my dad’s presence. In 2011 my mother left back to India to take care of my father. She had also overstayed her visa, which now has her barred to come back into the country. Even though my father has his green card, it is still an extensive process to apply for my mother to come back into the states. I’m still unsure if I’ll ever be able to see her anytime soon.