On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain individuals who came to the United States as children and met several guidelines could request consideration for deferred action through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. To be eligible the individuals had to have entered the United Sates before their 16th birthday, have resided continuously in the USA for 5 years, be in school or have graduated from high school, and not be convicted of any felony or significant misdemeanor. Those with deferred action are not considered to be unlawfully present in the United States, however they are not granted any legal status or government benefits, but get temporary employment authorization to work in the United States and reprieve from deportation. The work permit could be renewed every 2 years. On September 5, 2017, the executive order was rescinded: new applications are no longer accepted, and renewal applications for work permits expiring before March 5, 2018 were accepted until October 5, 2017.
USCCB President Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, along with USCCB Vice President, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, chairman, Committee on Migration, denounced the Administration’s termination of the DACA program as causing unnecessary fear for DACA youth and their families. They reminded all that these youth entered the U.S. as minors and often know America as their only home. The Bishops consider this decision unacceptable, shattering the hope and future of thousands of these youth who work and provide for their families, serve in the military, or receive an education.
The Story of an Aggie Catholic Student
It’s confusing really. I feel like my home is the United States. I’ve been here for 97% of my life. It should be home right? I know the life-style, culture, language, pledge of allegiance, national anthem, school system, history, and laws. Honestly, the list can go on, but the point is that I know everything a person living in the United States as a citizen knows, maybe even more than some. Yet, I cannot vote, travel internationally or receive federal aid. Why? Because ‘technically’ this is where I do not belong. ‘Technically’ this is not my home. If this is true, then Mexico, the place I was born, is my home. I admit I am proud of my heritage and culture, but it is not my home. I know as much as you do, but the only advantage I have is knowing the language and culture. I would not be able to follow a class in complete Spanish, I would not be able to know if I was paying too much for a certain product, I would not know if something that I was doing was illegal, I wouldn’t know how the government worked, I would not know the national anthem, I would not know because I was not submersed into that everyday life. You see where the confusion comes from? My home does not match from what the law says and what my heart says. Where do I belong? I’ve been living in this limbo for most of my life.
One of the greatest blessings in my life has been coming into Texas A&M University. I am an Aggie through and through. There is nothing ‘different’ about me. I am not restricted. It is hard to explain this sense of total belonging. I would not have been able to experience this without DACA. Before DACA my options were limited. I knew I was undocumented, but it never affected me until I wanted to get my first job and get my license like all my friends. I remember wanting to learn to drive, but I couldn’t because I was not eligible for a driver’s license. I am the oldest out of 3, my brother was getting his license and I was stuck; unable to progress in life. Soon, I was naively applying to different retail stores and restaurants getting rejection after rejection because I did not have social security. It finally started sinking in, this is a big deal. How am I going to achieve my dreams if I can’t even have a driver’s license?
DACA came at a perfect time for me. I was a junior in high school. The paper work was extensive and the cost expensive, but more importantly doors opened. I could get a real job and have the financial possibility to go to college. DACA allowed me to obtain a workers’ permit and started working at Aeropostale. I could finally start driving lessons. I could finally start thinking about what college I wanted to go to. I could finally start thinking of a future. “Future” was always something so uncertain for me.
After DACA was taken out, the day before the first day of career fair where I was going to look for a full-time job, I was back to my life before DACA. My future is uncertain. Should I even go? What am I going to do for the rest of my life? Will companies even want me? I went, but these thoughts are still in my head. My heart hurts because it feels unfair. I have worked so hard to get into the greatest petroleum engineering school in the nation. I am a spectator of my future. I have no control. There is truly a broken immigration system in this country and lack of awareness about it. I have had an application to get my residency for at least 15 years. Nothing has happened. There is no way to citizenship. There is no amount of money I can give or anything I can do to fix it.
With or without DACA, I am dreamer. I dream of a life here in the United States where I can fully participate as a citizen, where I can travel the world if I wanted to, where I could be in control of my future, where I can simply be able to work hard for what I want and have a ‘chance’ to obtain it. I rest in knowing that whatever happens, my life will go on, Jesus will be on my side and I’ll make the best of it.