This Tuesday, the Trump administration announced the cancellation of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama-era policy that protects the nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States before the age of 16 (nicknamed Dreamers) from deportation, and allows them the ability to work legally.
I still remember the day I found out I was undocumented. It was right after High School. I told my parents that I was ready to work, drive, and go to college. Unfortunately, none of those things are allowed if you are undocumented.
It wasn’t easy walking around hiding your identity and even hiding it from your friends. None of my friends knew I was undocumented. I got asked many times to go to a bar or a club and my answer was always “no, I have stuff to do…” knowing I won’t be able to get in with my expired California ID. I was called Lazy, Dead Beat, Low Life, because I was not driving, not working, and wasn’t going to school. Not by choice. I applied at places to work but got rejected. I applied to go to college and also got rejected.
Santa Ana College was the only college that allowed undocumented students to attend, and eventually, I found a video store that was ok with me working under the table. I walked, biked, skated and took the bus to work and school for many years, getting paid below minimum wage. I made art and sold art on the side to make extra cash.
Until the day DACA was passed. I applied, just like 800,000 dreamers, and I was able to work, drive, and go school like a normal American. I was able to live the American Dream, able to stay here legally, get a work visa, and not hide anymore.
The only way Dreamers will legally be able to stay in the country once their DACA permits expire will be if the law changes, or a new act is passed. The White House is giving Congress a six-month deadline to come up with a legislative fix before the government stops processing permits. The time for action is now; that’s why I marched to #DefendDACA.
Below is a list of resources for DACA immigrants to learn more about the program’s repeal:
- The Immigrant Legal Resource Center has created a helpful guide on what to do after DACA’s repeals.
- The National Immigration Law Center is one of the leading organizations in the U.S. that is exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of immigrants.
- Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) focuses on advocating labor rights for working undocumented immigrants. They can assist with DACA renewal applications and will be offering free legal services to eligible Dreamers.
- National Immigration Forum offers resources on equipping undocumented youths with skills needed to land good and helpful jobs.
More information about the announcement and its potential outcomes can be read here: Trump Moves to End DACA and Calls on Congress to Act (New York Times).
Info via #MakeAmericaSmartAgain, a great resource to use to stay informed.