I am a DACA recipient. 13 years ago, my parents decided to come to the United States so their children could receive a quality education in a safer environment. I was only 7 years old at the time, but I understood the sacrifice that my parents had done for us so that we could have more opportunities in life. In the process of crossing over, we abandoned our country, our families and our home forever.

Growing up in the U.S. has not been easy and raising four children has been equally as hard on my parents. Still, my family has done everything to remain in this country. From learning English to accepting the customs and cultural norms, we have become a part of the American society and adapted so well into this country. It feels unfair that we are mistreated and denied the same opportunities as our American neighbor.

Instead, we have to tolerate the racism, prejudice and discrimination that is targeted against immigrants. When things get hard, we look to God for reassurance and pray to him for a miracle.  For us, DACA is a miracle come true.

Since DACA was established, it has protected roughly 700,000 Dreamers including myself. When I think about how my life has changed since I became a recipient of the DACA program,  I realize how lucky I am. Simply to apply for DACA, I had to meet requirements like: being under the age of 30, proving I came to the U.S before age 16, continuously residing in the United States since June 15, 2012 to present time, currently enrolled in school or have a GED and a clean record. In my case, I was granted eligibility for the program and obtained protection under DACA.

Being a DACA recipient has opened many doors for me such as living most of my life without the fear of deportation. Now, I live with a little less fear and a lot more courage. For me, DACA has served as a shield from deportation and alleviated many of my fears in this country.  My experience with DACA has allowed me to view the problems with our immigration system and see the need for changes to our current immigration policies.

I have learned that, while there are many benefits to obtaining DACA, there are also some setbacks.  The benefits include protection from deportation, a work permit, social security number and a driver’s license.  However, this temporary permit is not secure and it does not grant us full access to other assistance programs and benefits such as in-state college tuitions, food stamps or federal student financial aid.

I am aware that my situation has improved but it doesn’t seem to progress.  Just a few months ago, the DACA program was in danger of being revoked if Congress could not think of an alternative plan. Meanwhile, Dreamers yet again were susceptible to deportation and losing their DACA benefits. Fortunately, after weeks of protests and calls to our representatives, the situation with DACA took a positive turn and was restored for now.

Currently, we continue to fight for changes that can ensure more security to Dreamers and other immigrants. Recently, a new practice that was implemented by the administration of Governor Eric Holcomb placed DACA recipients in danger of losing their professional licenses and opportunities to acquire licenses for over 70 professions including cosmetology, nursing and architecture. In light of this, there were many advocates that came up front to the matter and some representatives mentioned that denying access for DACA students to obtain professional licenses was ruinous for the individual, employers and the workforce. Thankfully, advocates convinced Congress to allow DACA recipients to apply for and keep their licenses.

Dreamers, parents and communities have been in constant turmoil about when DACA will end and what will happen if it does. As a Dreamer, I believe that it is inhumane and unfair that we have to prove ourselves further to this country in order to stay. DACA students do no harm and contribute to this country.

Also, the DACA program has been profitable to the U.S. economy because DACA participants pay taxes and fill positions in the workforce, not to mention that a great percentage of students have graduated high school and are attending college. The impact that DACA has had is undeniable. If the program ended, the U.S. would lose millions of dollars and the damage to the communities would be devastating.   

Lastly, as people become more aware of the situation, I will strive to be an advocate and a voice for those who are vulnerable. I will continue to share my story so that others understand that we are not afraid to fight for our rights nor will we stop pursuing the American Dream for which we have sacrificed so much. With trust in God, I have faith that soon this crisis will end and justice will be served.