A Dreamer having a nightmare concerning whether they belong in the United States. (Daniela Sanchez/Lariat)
I get told that I should go back to my country, that I don’t do anything for this country besides adding to the already-too-large number of immigrants and help increase the crime rate. I pay taxes just like any other American, and I contribute to Social Security by working with a permit for which I pay money to use. Opponents of DACA portray Dreamers as criminals who neither work nor go to school. I’ve had the same job for almost four years, been promoted to a management position, and earn more than minimum wage, all while attending college.
I was brought to this country at the age of 1, and have not gone back, mainly because I can’t. I grew up learning English in a southern Orange County household that spoke only Spanish. This is the only country that I know. My blood boils to think that some people have the audacity to tell me that I don’t belong here, simply because I was born somewhere else.
What upsets me the most is hearing people, referring to Dreamers, say, “they are taking our jobs,” or, “they are all criminals.” Both are clearly false statements.
I don’t remember walking into my job interview and saying, “Hey, fire the white kids and hire me.” I applied for jobs just like any other 16 year old in my high school, waiting patiently for an interview.
Falsely labelling all DACA recipients as criminals only shows that people are uneducated on the subject of immigration. All DACA applicants are background-checked and fingerprinted before they are permited to enter the U.S.
One of the hardest things to grasp about this issue is that I can’t do anything about it. My renewed permit is valid until 2019 — but that could all change in March when Congress is slated to announce the fate of the Dreamers. Attending protests, petitioning local representatives and battling Facebook trolls has become the norm for me.
What people don’t understand are the consequences of terminating DACA. What will it will mean for the 800,000 people under DACA’s protection? Many Dreamers like me, who have jobs, will lose them, and the companies we work for lose our labor. Once our licenses expire, they will no longer be renewable because our Social Security will be revoked. Our ability to attend college will be limited.
Dreamers, to begin with, do not receive the same benefits that FAFSA applicants are offered. We apply on a different application known as the Dream Act. The only financial aid a Dreamer is able to receive are fee waivers.
The biggest threat that Dreamers may face is deportation. President Donald Trump has said that DACA is optional, a conception that attempts to justify the forcing of some of us to countries we have no memory of.
People want me to be ashamed of my culture, but this only gives it more power. I’m incredibly proud to be Hispanic, and that is why I fight to continue living in a country that was built on the idea of a “melting pot.”