As a Dreamer, I Will Not Be a Bargaining Chip for Trump’s Attack on Immigrants

So many words come to mind right now to describe how I feel about the loss of DACA: devastation, anger, rage, betrayal, hopelessness, fear, sadness. DACA transformed my life.

DACA allowed me to attend college, plan for my future, and work. But one of the most valuable things DACA brought me was peace of mind. I knew that I would no longer have to duck my head to scurry past police officers. I knew I would have my driver’s license as a form of government-issued ID so I would not stand out when boarding a plane or even getting a library card. I stopped constantly fearing deportation. I slept easier at night knowing that I would wake up the next day with the ability to plan at least the next two years of my life and that I would be able to help my parents. I didn't have a seemingly unending pit of fear in my stomach that often turned into full-fledged panic attacks.

The enormity of the obstacles I had been up against, for once, seemed manageable. I became more confident in my status and in talking openly about it. But now, as I once again “become” undocumented, I worry that many of us who have been public about our stories will be forced to go back into the shadows.

Being undocumented forces people to live a huge amount of uncertainty. My parents and I came to the United States from Chile in search of a better life when I was 6 years old. Growing up undocumented, I couldn’t imagine my future. I didn’t know how I was going to be able to go to college or pay for it. Once I was in college, before I got DACA, I did not know if I was going to be able to use my degree afterwards. Even as I consider grad school now, I don’t know whether I’ll be able to attend, or later, to work. My way of handling all of this has been by carefully concocting contingency Plans B, C, D, and E, always prepared to go into effect at any moment. “Expect the worst and hope for the best,” is my family motto.

Thousands of DACA recipients will lose their work permits each day after it is rescinded, meaning thousands of families that depend on those young people will risk losing their livelihoods. Student loans and mortgages will go unpaid. Young parents will be unable to provide for their children. Your co-worker, teacher, or boss will not show up to work. People’s plans and dreams will fade, some people might even disappear from your life entirely, as more people will consider going into hiding, or committing suicide as some did after the election. This is real pain. We, together as a community, must go through a mourning process.

But in some sense, this is also liberating. We all knew this day would come. DACA was so fragile. Not because it’s unconstitutional, as Attorney General Sessions claims — he’s wrong —but because it was a superficial solution for a much bigger problem, a temporary Band-Aid that would eventually have to be replaced by something stronger. DACA set up a narrative of good versus bad immigrant; it creates the categories of those who are deserving and undeserving by criminalizing our parents, who did us a great service by bringing us to this country. We should not have to hide behind the rhetoric that "we were brought here through no fault of our own.” It felt like it forced a choice between our parents, who brought us to this country with nothing but hope of a better life for us, and our own futures.

Of course, we will fight and resist the end of DACA, but we must also prepare ourselves for the bigger battles ahead. We must think beyond this limited disqualifying narrative that aims to divide us the immigrant community into good and bad people. We must strive for a solution that reaches beyond the 800,000 Dreamers who were granted DACA.

The Trump administration wants to use Dreamers as a bargaining chip to get Congress to fund and authorize a massive crackdown on immigrant communities in this country. They want to force us – in a desperate attempt to save Dreamers – to throw the very people who taught us how to dream under the bus: our parents. The people who came before us and who fought before us. Saving Dreamers should not mean that more detention centers are built or funding for the wall. We have to resist, no matter how appealing a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers will appear, and fight for a clean, standalone Dream Act and, ultimately for a pathway for all 11 million undocumented people in this country. We have to stand by our principles and by the people who made it possible for us to dream.

The success of DACA, not only for individuals but for the country, reveals the need for a larger solution. That’s why business leaders have banded together to fight the program’s end. DACA created a different America. Now 800,000 people who received it are out of the shadows. We found our voices. We have further integrated ourselves into the social fabric of the United States. We will not retreat and disappear again. We will not allow our families to be torn apart.

I am now speaking directly to all 800,000 of you out there who are directly impacted by today’s announcement. Allow yourself to grieve — your pain and suffering are justified. Cry all your tears, scream, break down, do whatever you need to do to express the devastation that we all feel. Then wake up tomorrow and be ready to fight, because we are in for the fight of our lives, and I’m ready to win.

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Undocumented

Hi racist of the America!! Im not a dreamer, I want to give you a little sneak peak of" what we are", We work hard for somebody like you, get rich o richier, we pay taxes but we didn't get back EIC, we pay social security and medicaid ,but we are not allow to get retirement or medical services, only in emergency cases (sometimes in some states).No food stamp, no section 8, no help or loans or student aid. We keep ourself under the radar, trying to be the best we can be, blending in, not dreaming too much, without asking too much. We don't travel, We are not allow to be sick . We don't speak English but ..we can stole your job...mhhh ... don't you think that maybe you are too lazy to work in a macdonald for $9.50 an hour ,70 hour a week ,cleaning and smelling like a burger the whole day??? and let me tell you Macdond is a very lucrative company from long before us!
In fact, makes me remember, in those times you were willing to work yeah! Now you wanna be paid as a manager and fool around with your cell the entire day. Actually I think I know you!!, probably I work next to you everyday, We buy coffee from the same coffee truck and when you are fooling around with your cell I work for both of us or maybe you are the boss who lives me in charge, because you know you can trust me!
Now you want us to go back to our countries??, after that you get richer?? after I protect your ass not be kicked out of your job?? after I paid for your retirement?? after I paid for your health?? Now we don't deserved nothing?? interesting how you see everything. The same with Native Americans?? ahh, rape, killing and who knows what horrors, that poor people have to live with you ! but its your land ah?? let me tell you something, we don't want your privileges, we just want the right to drive, can travel , pay our share, and stop the fear be deported... we can keep doing the same.. paying for your deficit, we are just looking for some freedom in the Freedom Land.

Citizen

Undocumented,
Been there, done that. Worked in a fast food joint for $7.10/hour (started at 6.25/hr)....and now much more than that, without the fooling around with the cell phone because I have work that needs to done and projects which need to be completed. Nobody is paying for my health care, that comes out of my paycheck. Retirement? That too comes out paycheck. Social Security? That comes out of my paycheck, too and I can forget about it because I'm not gonna see a damn cent of it. Student loans? That came out of my paycheck for the past 20 years of my working life. Right to drive? Not in the Bill of Rights, so it isn't a right...and after everything gets taken out of my paycheck, after all bills and taxes I have to pay for, am I getting richer? Not really..I'm just treading water.

And, no you didn't protect my ass when I got fired.
I had to stand up to myself, but I still lost..

Because let's face it...Nothing's free in Freedom Land or what used to remain of Freedom Land.

Anonymous

Go back to your own country ! Real Americans are sick and tired of seeing our tax dollars pay for your children's education, health and groceries.

Anonymous 1

Yes, my parents came to the USA for better opportunities for themselves and for their own future children. The biggest difference being that they can enjoy living in this country without living in the shadows and fear in a country that has its ups and downs, as a matter of fact they have left freely and return to the USA many times and were able to pursue any occupation for which they were qualified for.

For them, Trump is just another occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave...and aren't dependent on sympathetic Administration, Congress, or rallies to fight for them. It's just another 4 years for them...

Ken

I haven't heard anything about paying back the free medical, education, and numerous other benefits the schemers soaked up. What does illegal mean? This is just as bad as when someone broke into my house and got a public defender for free.

Anonymous

All the moral characteristics the Dreamers have are qualities Trump doesn't possess himself. Maybe he's affronted by their integrity, hard work, and true love of what America stands for. How many Dreamers have served in the military to meet the requirement? Now he can just turn his back? Shows no moral character if you ask me.

Anonymous

"True love of what America stands for?" - all they do is demand that we legalize all their extended family and keep sneaking more of them across the border. That has little to do with what the USA stands for.

Anonymous

The illegal does not contribute in any meaningful way to the community. They are abusers of the system. They take much more than they give. They started their new life here in America by lying, cheating and scamming the American people. Then they want to cry foul when they get called out on their misdeeds. Pathetic actually. Spare me the tears.

Concerned citizen

I hear so many great things from every undocumented person interviewed on the media.
The interviewer asks how the undocumented person arrived in the US, and the answer is always a brief "my parents took me across the southern border when I was a child for a better life."
Then the interview goes on with how hard the undocumented person works, studies, contributes, etc.

But their parent(s) committed a criminal act by entering the US without permission.
"8 U.S. Code § 1325 - Improper entry by alien"
This is a plain and simple fact, whether you do it for a better life or whatever, your parent(s) committed a misdemeanor offense.
Can some lawyer from ACLU please tell me why this should be ignored? Is it some statute of limitations thing? Does Humanitarian Law override somehow?

It's only $50 to $250 and/or up to 6 months time in jail, but your parent(s) would be deported in almost all these cases (unless the offending parent(s) have a child born in the US). Sneaking into the US with your kids to "dream" of a better life was a risky gamble. I'm sorry our congress is so slow to reform the immigration laws, but ignoring existing laws governing our borders is not an option here.

From what I'm reading from ACLU and others who are upset at DACA being wound down, is that we should ignore 1325, shut down ICE and the border patrol, and perhaps pass laws to disallow terms like "illegal alien."

Definition from IRS:
Illegal Alien
Also known as an "Undocumented Alien," is an alien who has entered the United States illegally and is deportable if apprehended, or an alien who entered the United States legally but who has fallen "out of status" and is deportable.

The phrase "undocumented immigrant" sounds to me like an immigrant who just forgot to pick up his/her documents (IRS only defines "immigrant" as someone who lawfully entered the US).
IMMIGRATION REFORM NOW.

Anonymous

About 5 countries make up the bulk of the immigrants (legal and illegal) in the USA. One of them is the country many Dreamers are from, Mexico. When you talk about reforming immigration so their families can stay you are just stacking the deck even more in the favor of one group at the expense of everyone else. For low skill immigrants one of the few ways to get to the USA is by family visa so if there are more people from Mexico then they can sponsor more family members. There's supposed to be a cap but they get extras due to the backlog. If you Google and look at the numbers its ridiculous. The bulk of out unskilled immigrants (again legal and illegal) are coming from Mexico and Central America). At the same time, immigration from South America and Africa is next to nothing.

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