Amidst the torrent of political debate about DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), there are real people. I’d like to highlight just a few of the voices of those most deeply impacted by the White House’s decision to end DACA prior to the passage of Congressional legislation. These are people in my community, in and around the Atlanta area.
“I was 3 years old when I was brought to this country I would call home and where I would begin my dreaming, but unfortunately, I would come to find out I wasn’t welcomed here. I have never been back to Mexico and I hardly know anyone back there. I am proud of my culture and of who I am, but I consider the United States my home country. This is where I grew up, attended school, made friends, had dreams come true, graduated, bought my first home, bought my first car, found a great job. This is where I see myself getting married, building a family, retiring. I can’t imagine my life out of this country. #DACA gave me the opportunity to do all the things I mentioned above and allowed me to get out of the shadows. All of that is now threatened, my way of life is now in danger of changing. The fear of deportation is back in my mind once more, everything I have worked for is on the verge of being snatched out of my grip. When Trump was elected I always had this thought in the back of my head that this could happen, but I was optimistic and hopeful. Now there is a 99% chance DACA will be terminate. Last night, it was reported that the decision has been made and just needs to be announced publicly, with a 6-month delay to allow Congress to come up with a solution. I have lost hope and my light is growing dim. Congress has not come up with any solution in the freaking past years. How will they do it now in 6 months? I am feeling anger, frustration, fear, sadness, a whole range of emotions. I cried last night and felt betrayed by a country I want to see flourish. Tired of having to prove I am worthy enough to be American and why I should be given the opportunity to stay here. I feel dumb for trusting a government with all my personal information, fearing that if they choose, they can come to my doorstep. I do not want to go back into the shadows…. I personally know people I cherished and loved that voted for this man, and I can’t see them the same. They did not look at the big picture of what this administration would do to so many people. I have no desire to keep in touch with any of these so called “friends” who, knowing my situation, still went ahead and supported him.”
“In the next year, I’m going to save all the money I receive and move to Europe… or somewhere nice outside the U.S. I don’t think it’s ideal to invest money into this economy, into my lifestyle. There is no point in having somewhat decent furniture or a really nice car. I’ve been limited on what I could do since I was young. DACA actually improved my financial struggle and helped me support my single mother and brothers. I wanted to pursue my future studies, but I wanted to wait to see how everything would play out. There is no point in investing large amounts of dollars into your studies, then be told that you can’t work here because of your undocumented status. It hasn’t ended yet, but when it does end… I want to be ready. They don’t give a shit to what happens to you outside the U.S. borders. Why not have a foundation to fall back on? They have deported people with practically nothing and sent them back to unfamiliar territory with just the single pair of clothes they had on. I don’t want these sociopaths screwing me over. I’ll leave on my own terms.
“For me, losing DACA is not about the possibility of having to leave this country. There’s life outside the United States. I’m resourceful. I can figure it out. If my parents left their country in their 30s to go live somewhere completely new… I like to think I can do it too. So no, it’s not that.
“It’s the feeling of failure—like I failed at proving to this country that I’m worthy of it. It’s wondering where God is, because I don’t think he’s by my side. (If the evangelical church voted this president in… then either the church is very misled or God doesn’t really care about 11 million of us.) It’s the rejection—that after 20 years of being a good student, volunteering, working hard, serving in church—it’s realizing it’s not enough. It’s wondering why I even tried, knowing that it’s nothing personal but not being able to shake the feeling of rejection. It’s not wanting to fall apart, working to stay stable and not worry my loved ones too much but not knowing how long I’ll last before I spiral—and knowing that when I spiral, I take my mother and my sister down with me.
“And it’s the not knowing. That’s the worst. I feel dizzy from years of back and forth—’they’re signing something!’ ‘No, they’re not.’ ‘This president will help us!’ ‘Never mind.’ ‘Something will change soon!’ ‘Nope. Things are getting worse’—it’s crazy-making. My heart is sick from years of hope deferred. So I don’t really worry about logistics. But 20 years of being undocumented (especially when you’re only 28) can really mess someone up.
“It’s also a very complicated system—so much so that even immigrants are often confused. The only path for citizenship for someone who overstayed their visa (like me) or someone who crossed the border is if I first marry an American citizen, then get a green card, then apply for citizenship.
“The main thing I would like for people to understand is that no one chooses to be undocumented. We aren’t sitting around avoiding getting a social security number, avoiding getting a driver’s license, avoiding being recognized as citizens in this country because we want to, because we don’t care enough, because we’re uninformed—or whatever else people think we’re doing. If there were a sign-up sheet, my name would be on it. If there were a line to stand in, I’d be there. Of course I would.
“Another main point is this: When we say the immigration system is broken, it’s because it’s broken. It doesn’t make sense for the current population. It needs to be fixed. DACA was a bandaid and I wish it were being removed after legislation were passed. Because that’s what we need: a permanent, sensical solution from Congress.”