Humans of DACA
"As I was going through the process and as my sister was going through the process, I started learning what it meant to be undocumented and what it meant to be a DREAMer.
The first time I kind of found out that there was even a possibility for someone to be “illegal” is around the time when Corey Stewart here in Virginia, started pushing for the 287g program, which is basically a program which allows the police to stop anyone on the road just because they have probable cause or they think they might be undocumented. They have the right to ask that person for their papers. That’s the first time I knew that it was even a possibility, but I didn’t know that that included my family and I.
It never really leaves my mind, this impending sense that at any moment a misfortune could happen or that at any moment I might get lucky and Congress might pass something. It’s always in the back of my mind."
"My mom has been working since age 5. Her back hurts, everything hurts--it’s typical of prolonged manual labor. My mom’s job is so hard. I just want her to stop working, or at least have a break.
The first vacation she ever took in her life was when she came to Boston for my graduation [from Harvard]. We went to the Latino graduation. It was so powerful because you get to go up on the stage with someone who means a lot to you. My mom went up with me. They gave her a sash, and then put a sash on me that says 'Harvard Latina.'
All the parents were crying. It was so beautiful because some of our parents have never walked the stage. They have never graduated from anything. That night I felt inspired. I gave her my cap and gown and sash that said 'Harvard Latina' and I took photos of her all through campus. And she was so happy. She said, 'I’ve never had this. I’ve never worn this.' It was like a dream come true."
"I remember very clearly when I was interning on the hill in DC. My cohort and I would walk from meeting to meeting on Fridays and we would be dressed in business clothes. We would pass by workers who were cleaning windows who looked like us, who looked like our parents. We would remember instantly why we were there. We were there to represent our family.
That’s what we do in every space that we inhabit, in every space that we take up. It’s important to never forget where you come from, where you are in life, where you want to be, and where your parents want you to be. So I’m here fighting every day. Whether it be in DC, whether it be back home in Alabama, I’m fighting. I’m trying to empower others to take on the fight and to learn how they can use their stories to affect change in the country."
"It can be very emotionally and mentally draining to be in this fight...there’s a lot of pressure on us.
I like watching film. I like going to the movie theater. I’m even taking a film course in college. It’s my little escape from politics and everything--just to be able to go to a movie and sit there in complete darkness for two hours. I get to watch something else that’s not my story, not my life. It distracts me for at least two hours on a given day. So I find myself doing that constantly."
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“When I was 28, it was the first time I was able to go through a real hiring process, because of DACA. After four months, I made more than $170,000. I worked my ass off for that commission; I became the #1 agent in LA. I was very satisfied materially, which I’ve never been in my life. After two years, when I extended my DACA, I thought to myself, ‘Is this really what I want to do? Use my freedom to make money?’ The answer was no. I wanted to use my DACA status fully, which means freedom.
So I quit my job and I bought a touring bike, and I rode across the country, by myself. It took two months, and it really changed my perspective on how I viewed America. I felt a human connection with the folks I met. During the trip, because I was biking, I had to rely on their generosity. They let me pitch my tent in their yards and churches—they donated food. They’re really good people. But the politicians, the so-called smart people, they try to divide us. It’s not the fault of the immigrants, and it’s not the fault of the people who live in the middle states, the red states. There is a huge disconnection because of a lack of communication. That’s what I got from the trip.”