Under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), I was closer to feeling American. However, having to come here at a young age has put some unwanted stipulations to my acceptance.
Now, as the president operates the country in the unconventional manner he does, Dreamers live every day feeling as if they are on the verge of drowning. Towards the beginning of the presidency we were promised something good for the Dreamers; “We love the Dreamers…We think the Dreamers are terrific,” Trump says. Nobody who says something like that could possibly cave in on such a vulnerable demographic right?
On the 5th of September it was confirmed after a few days of speculation that DACA was rescinded. Being one of the organizers at the march in Washington I saw firsthand how my community was affected by this terrible news. Even during the speculative days, were the documents saying DACA was being rescinded were “leaked” everyone started to shut down. They started to revert back to the days where they had to hide to survive. It was easy for a lot of undocumented students to come out of their shells with DACA; they started working and pursuing their goals because they remember how much they didn’t have before. But now that their livelihoods are threatened, it’s almost instinctual to go back to the days of scraping by.
There are more rumors floating around. Being in CUNY DREAMers, an organization made to build a network of support for undocumented students, were cautious to reveal that Trump said to reporters on his way to Florida “We’re working on a plan for DACA.” We later found out on a New York Times article that “Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Nancy Pelosi, said in a joint statement that they had a “very productive” dinner meeting with the president at the White House that focused on the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. “We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly.”
No promise Trump makes is credible, the American people know that, and we Dreamers know that. So, we were hesitant to introduce false hope in all this turmoil, but we also function to inform everybody. Nobody has really expressed anything about it at least in my social sphere, we know the deal; it might or might not happen. What’s important for me and other Dreamers is that we keep pushing for a clean bill that ensures our safety here in the U.S. and that we pursue our own personal goals.
This brings up another point I think is important about Dreamers. We are human yes, but usually only one aspect of humanity is focused on regarding us. Supporters will always speak about us in superlatives, because immigrants being criminals is already a stereotype people love to pretend is factual. The truth is that some Dreamers go through a lot from a young age, and as a result can suffer from some mental problems. These are very young people after all. I know of Dreamers who have resorted to drug use, some ruining their lives and going homeless as a result because of the hopelessness that being undocumented brings. Suicidal thoughts, anxieties, and brain damage from drug are effects that do not go away after entering the gray legal area that is DACA. They are still resilient because most of them work through anxiety and depression, performing at high levels with more weighing them down, but it’s easy to look down on those that fail for some reason. In that sense I’d like to remind people that we are humans with flaws that still deserve as much as any other highly functioning Dreamer.
On top of being resilient, Dreamers are independent. As soon as we were able to work we took advantage of it and many gave back to their families. With somebody able to legally work in the family, a lot of undocumented parents started to depend on the extra income that their children were bringing in, and a lot of students had to pay for college with their own money earned from their new jobs. This forced a lot of them to become extremely independent. I, for example, pay for college myself with a scholarship I was able to get explicitly because of DACA. My parents would not be able to put me through college otherwise. I know of Dreamers who actually took up family businesses and had the added stress of that on their plate. Rescinding DACA permanently would mean the end of many small businesses that were at the verge of collapsing, and ending the college careers of tens of thousands of students.
So yes the end of DACA means the end of happiness and freedom for a lot of young immigrants. For me it means the same thing. I was born in St. Lucia and came to the United States when I was 3 to stay. Before I was traveling back and forth because of medical reasons; I had been diagnosed with “Severe Immune Deficiency” and had to seek treatments in the states. I got it but needed to stay because my physical state was so volatile. Complications in the system meant that I had to stay here undocumented for my life. Now I’m pursuing a Computer Science degree at York College, and I also do freelance writing as a secondary occupation. The end of DACA means the end of both of those dreams. Before I had DACA, being an undocumented youth meant hiding and getting by any way you can. Now, with DACA and with the DACA students I’ve encountered, being a Dreamer simply means finding a better life for yourself where otherwise you were bound unfairly before
Words by me for Nancy Delgadillo