“During the week that marked eight years since President Barack Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA),” writes Claudia Marchan, executive director for Northern Illinois Justice for Our Neighbors, and herself a DACA recipient, “the Supreme Court ruled against the Trump Administration to end DACA and allows DACA to stay!
“This is a huge win for the immigrant community, but it is not the end of the struggle,” she continues. reminding us that DACA is a temporary status. “As we reflect on this gratifying and surprising victory from the Supreme Court, I share with you the story of one DACA recipient; I share with you my story.”
Growing up, I rarely felt different. I was reunited with my mom at the age of 4 and met my family, which included a new baby sister and a dad. The promise of a new baby sister and a dad was what my mom reminded me of as I struggled to leave my grandmother’s side that day in August. Although my mom called me frequently to remind me that she would return, it was hard to leave Mama Socorro.
I didn’t feel different because my mom reminded me every single day why she had to make the decision to leave. She was in search of a better life for the two of us. You see, she had struggled her whole life to get an education, shelter and food. Her dad, my grandfather, who passed away at the age of 35 when my mom was 14, sent her off to go to school in another town at the age of 12. When my mom tells us this story, she says “He didn’t have a formal education. He rode a horse, and ‘stole’ your grandmother at the age of 16, but somehow he knew that my future was not there in the rancho.”
I tell you this because this is where I come from; this is part of my story. The story of the struggle, pain, anger and resilience of my mother is also my story. My mother immigrated to the United States and was able to gain Lawful Permanent Residence (green card) through her husband. But she didn’t know that she could apply for me, too. She didn’t speak the language, she didn’t have anyone she could ask for help, and she was afraid of making a mistake that would have consequence for me, miles away and separated by a border.
Today, I am “DACAmented,” and leading an immigration legal services nonprofit. I spend each day thinking not only of my struggles and pain, but of the struggles and pain of close to 700,000 of my DACAmented peers across the country.
I know the opportunities we have had and of the opportunities that have been denied for those who were left out of DACA. I worry about the mixed status families and undocumented families that are denied safety and have been left out of all emergency funding during a world crisis. I think about all the immigrants in detention centers that have been separated from their families, denied asylum, and exposed to a deadly pandemic.
And now, I get to celebrate the 700,000 students, mothers, fathers, teachers, nurses, engineers, attorneys, accountants, scientists, community leaders, and especially those risking their lives every single day in frontline jobs, can now sleep better knowing that DACA is safe. Many of these DACAmented immigrants have risked their lives in frontline jobs every single day throughout this pandemic while worrying about losing DACA protections every single night.
Throughout this pandemic, close to 700,000 of us have had to continue facing a world crisis with the threat of losing our status in this country. This reality has left us short of living the American Dream and, instead, stuck us in a nightmare. Today, we can celebrate waking up from this nightmare as we, once again, have the opportunity to share in the American Dream.
Growing up, I rarely felt different. But really, I am different. I have grown up in a country that continues to push me to the side, denies me my rights, and seeks to send me back to the country of my birth.
The truth is that, yes, I am different. Frankly, I am ni de aquí ni de allá: neither from here, nor from there. I have lived in the United States for 33 of my 37 years of life. I went to kindergarten here, got my bachelor’s degree here, got my master’s degree here, got married here, had my children here, and celebrated my mom’s 60th birthday here. This is where I fought the government for unjustly putting my dad in a detention center. and fought the system for unjustly putting my dad in a detention center here. Yes, I was born in Mexico and, since Mama Socorro passed away, the Mexico that I vaguely remember is not the same without her.
The Supreme Court decision today that blocks the Trump Administration from ending DACA is a huge win, but it is not the end of our struggle. DACA recipients and all undocumented immigrants need and deserve a pathway to citizenship. We need to embrace, welcome, and help immigrants live safely in the United States.
As I saw the decision come in, my heart was beating fast, and tears of joy streamed down my face. For today we have won, but we must continue to fight for on comprehensive immigration reform for our immigrant communities and for a fair and just immigration system.
I invite you to join me in this fight.
¡Sigue la lucha!
Supporting the Dream and the Promise
It’s been over a year since the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6), which provides security, certainty, and a pathway to citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients— DREAMers brought to this country as minors—and people granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for humanitarian reasons.
Meanwhile, this vital legislation has stalled in the U.S. Senate.
What can you do?
- Use this handy tool and call your senators. It’s easy!
- You can also email your senators.
- Contact Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell via social media: on his Facebook page or tag him as @senatemajldr on Twitter
- Tweet your representatives and senators and ask them to support automatic extensions of work permits and protection from deportation in the next COVD-19 relief bill.