DACA: a personal history


I had always thought of myself as leading a double life. Not in the way of sneaking around during the night to an underground life that I could escape to but something like it. I am what you might call a “first generation kid.” In other words, I am someone who grew up in a culture that was different than that of my parents.

I was born in the border town of Acuña, Mexico, but my family and I immigrated to America when I was two years old. In Acuña, I knew a life that was a warm and welcoming array of colors filled with music and laughter. Our family was very big and very close. We spent holidays together, we prayed together and had a laundry list of traditions. I also knew a life filled with apple pie, fourth of July, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It was a vibrant life, but it was different than what my parents experienced in their motherland.

My mother and father grew up in concrete homes and dirt roads doing manual labor for a few pesos every week. When I was still in grade school, I was told stories about how their only toys were sticks and tires; how they would have to wash their uniforms by hand every morning; how by the age of seven, my mother was already helping my grandmother cook and clean.

As I got older, my parents would tell me of harsher realities like when my father had to share one mattress with five of his siblings or how his rough and calloused hands would work in whatever job he could find from dusk until dawn. Neither of my parents studied past high school. I know that these things are nothing that I should be ashamed of, but I know that it is not what they wanted for me.

In 2012, the Obama administration passed an immigration policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This allowed for children like me who entered the country before their 16th birthday and before June 2007 to receive a renewable two-year work permit and to be exempt from deportation. This was finally our big break — a yellow brick road for my older sister and me to make something of ourselves. Through this, I was able to get a driver’s license, get a job, obtain health insurance and above all, go to college. I took a year off after my high school graduation to work and save up money. I got a decent paying job, bought a car and a computer, and I managed to help my parents with bills and groceries. I applied to colleges, got accepted, moved to a big city and I am now attending a university where I have made wonderful friends, and I am making my parents prouder than what they could have imagined.

I am only one in 700,000 of these DACA recipients and one in millions of immigrant DREAMers. With the Trump administration’s recent repeal of DACA, I don’t know what is going to happen to me or the other millions like me. A lot of bright young minds full of knowledge, skills, ideas and innovation will have the rug pulled out from under them. Our future doctors, lawyers, writers and athletes will be losing their chances to better our world. We will be losing everything that we and our parents have worked for. But it is our courage to fight and our drive to push forward that have gotten us this far, and now more than ever is the time to show what we can really do when we stand unidos.

This article first appeared in the Friday, November 3, 2017, Edition of The Echo.