OPINION: Leave our DACA program alone
In 2012, I sat in my room alone and listened to President Barack Obama announce a program that would change my life: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). I had paid my way and graduated from college just two years earlier, and though I was undocumented, I was lucky enough to get a good job soon after — but I lived with many limitations, and I lived in fear of losing everything if I came out. DACA gave me security through a legal work permit, it gave me mobility with an ID, and it opened up the ceiling that had stood over my dreams. But the announcement was bittersweet — there was no path to citizenship, and I would be planning my life in two-year increments until Congress passed a more permanent solution.
Last November, from the FWD.us office in NYC, I listened to Obama announce his second executive action. After receiving DACA, I had completely redirected my life, using the new freedom and opportunity to offer up my skills to the immigrant rights movement. Again, the announcement was bittersweet: Many of my friends would qualify for the same program that I had benefitted from, but many others — and their parents — would not. The idea of a family being separated by a law makes my stomach hurt, and I know that’s a human reaction, not an “alien” one.
Last week, the new House of Representatives made it a priority to pass the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, with amendments included that will take away programs like DACA — instead of passing commonsense, constructive legislation with a pathway to citizenship. The bill will not go much further — Obama has already said he won’t sign it into law — but it was a symbolic action that felt like spit in my face. And that’s all it will be. While Congress moves backward, folks like those I’ve met at FWD.us are changing the consciousness of the American people, reminding us (yes, I am one of you) of our immigrant roots; showing us how beautiful the diversity of color and culture can be; and raising up the talent and skill that will contribute to our economy, from farm laborers to tech entrepreneurs to artists and activists.
Our representatives voted against us last week. I hope you’ll join a fellow American like me in calling them out.
FWD.us is an organization committed to supporting comprehensive immigration reform, improving the quality of American education and encouraging more investment in scientific innovation.
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