Five Years After DACA Was Created, My Life Is Transformed

Lisette Diaz, a DACA recipient, at her Harvard graduation.

Five years ago today, I was having a pretty good day. I was still riding the high of getting into Harvard. I had a date for prom, and I had just gotten my dream prom dress. I was on my way home from the store with my mom when I got a frantic phone call from my best friend.

I didn’t have very good service, but I could make out the gist of what she was yelling: new law, papers for Dreamers. I didn’t believe it. I turned on the Spanish radio, and there it was, DACA. President Obama had created a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to give young undocumented people like me, who had come to the country as children, temporary permission to work and live here without fearing deportation.

My parents and I immigrated to the United States from Chile when I was 6 years old. Just like other immigrants, they wanted a better life. My mom told me I was undocumented very early on, to fuel my aspirations in school. I knew there was no way I would be able to afford to go to college without a full scholarship, so it pushed me to be the best.

Being a young undocumented person means constant uncertainty. It means existing in the space between two worlds, walking on a thin line of wanting and needing, but at the same time hating the invisibility that comes with a lack of legal status. “Dreamers” is what they call us.” We are individuals brought to the United States as young children and raised as Americans. But while we navigate our American identities, shadows loom in our futures.

DACA is a Band-Aid we put on the deep wound that is our nation’s immigration policy. We will continue to bleed through it until we find a real solution.

As adulthood approaches, childhood’s blanket of equality that shields most undocumented individuals begins to slip. Entering young adulthood means getting your license, driving, having a job, applying to college. All things that felt — and in some cases were — impossible to me because of my undocumented status. And this is when you start fading into invisibility: in part because of a society that refuses to see you as equal and in part because of the actions you have to take to protect yourself.

You don’t draw attention to yourself because you don’t want your friends to keep asking why you haven’t gotten your license yet. You hide your depression from the rest of the world because you don’t want their pity, and you certainly don’t want them to find out why you can’t just apply for financial aid to go to college.

And then came DACA. President Obama announced the program about two weeks before I graduated high school — right around the time when I started to wonder how I was going to pay for all of the books and other expenses that come with going to a different state for college. Disbelief turned into elation. It seemed that after years of drowning in uncertainty and the fear of a fast-approaching deadline only I could see, my life was finally coming together. And then I looked over and I saw my mom. She was crying. She was happy. Something was going right. Her sacrifices were justified.

Being DACA-mented is not the same as having long-term legal status. It puts you on the bottom of the priority list for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and allows you to obtain work authorization. Having that work permit in my hand meant everything. I knew that at least when I graduated college, I could look forward to starting a career.

But for many of us who have DACA, it’s a way of living our lives in some semblance of peace. Having “papers” means I can work, which means I can help support my family. But it also gives me great pride. It means that I don’t need to live in the shadows. I don’t need to hide. It means that all of the years I spent pushing myself in school weren’t wasted. It means that the life I have in the U.S. is worth something. I am able to contribute to my community.

But the biggest impact, by far, is that DACA gives me and many others the courage to be open and publicly share our experiences of the undocumented struggle. Not everyone is so lucky. While I can now feel more comfortable driving by a police car, the same cannot be said for my parents and millions of other parents and other undocumented people across the country. DACA is a Band-Aid we put on the deep wound that is our nation’s immigration policy. We will continue to bleed through it until we find a real solution.

Today is DACA’s five-year anniversary. In the past five years, hundreds of thousands of people like me have come out of the shadows and are building their lives and enriching their communities and the people around them. President Trump has promised to maintain the DACA program, but since his election, some people’s DACA has been rescinded. Now, more than ever before, it is essential that we keep fighting for those still invisible and those like me whose whole lives depend on this program.

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Eli Samuel Goldman

I was going to post nonsense like Trump's idiotic supporters do as "Anonymous." But I'm not so cowardly as Trump's people. I'm not afraid to put my name to things. The fact is Trump's supporters have been posting *alternative* nonsense the entire election and after on his Camp's request. Just like his own wife lied claiming that Michelle Obama copied her speech when it clearly came out the opposite is true. And no. I'm by not means a Trump supporter. But I am someone who trys to show the world what the Trump camp has been doing the entire election. ....I was going to write the way they do, but I just can't stomach even pretending to be pro-Trump.The fact of the matter is Trump's own people post nonsense to seem like anti-trump nutcases, so they can then discredit their own posts. They do the same in conversations out here on the show. It's a form of Strawman argument. The non-alternative-fact is that all election and after Trump has been spreading rumor via a network of alt right idiots then complaining about rumors created by his own people in an effort to seem persecuted when in fact he persecuted others.

Alison Daewon

It could be said the fantasies that the time has approach to investigate the dull past, and possibly to convalesce, propel by the ethereal love that all moms have for their youth, some place in their souls. The unaware may likewise be stating that the creative thinker should be all the more purposely aware of her agony.


they are so happy, but what about people who suffered because they were STOLEN from to pay for all the bennies the brown supremacists get.

deport all illegal aliens they are brown supremacists, above the laws.

Jerries Alan

DACA is a type of administrative relief from deportation. the purpose of this organization is to protect eligible immigrant who came to America. DACA provides young undocumented immigrants.


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Yes that was the policy which was worth pondering upon because it enable the undocumented individuals to have freedom of studying and doing work.


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Every dollar you take is a dollar you have stolen from a meriting US subject. Our schools are invading with illegals who cost twofold to instruct against the avg resident. You and your folks are lawbreakers and will be expelled.


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