United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals will stop accepting new and renewal applications, leaving nearly 800,000 beneficiaries open to deportation.
Two DACA recipients at the University of Toledo told their stories on the condition of anonymity for safety concerns. They will be referred to as “A” and “N.”
"A" came to the U.S. when he was three from Mexico on a visitor’s visa. He grew up in Toledo and graduated high school before the DACA program was initiated in 2012.
“I’m from the border states in Mexico," "A" said. There are no opportunities and it is very run by drug cartels. It’s not a safe state. “DACA students don’t come from first-world countries. They come from very poor and dangerous countries.”
"DACA was a taste of what being American was like, but it always was temporary protection from deportation," "A" said.
“Without DACA, you would be completely undocumented," "N" said. “At the end of high school, you knew it was almost over for you. Without DACA, we can’t drive and you can’t go to school. We have so much freedom depended on this program.”
DACA not only provided the opportunity to work and to gain an education, but it granted ID cards to applicants, allowing them to drive, open a bank account and live “normal” lives, "A" said.
“All my friends had summer jobs, and I wasn’t able to do that. Going anywhere that required an ID was impossible without a ride. It was embarrassing to explain that and make excuses,” "A" said.
N, whose family came to America after a three-month journey from Colombia, says she doesn’t know her relatives who stayed behind and has no memories of Colombia.
“My parents always say how jealous they are with me because they don’t have a license,” "N" said. “You never realize the troubles of paying bills, not having your own bank accounts. My parents have spent more than half their time in America; they have learned the second language and adapted to the culture. They refer to themselves as Americans, then as Colombians.”
There doesn’t need to be a path to citizenship, but some legal securities similar to DACA for parents, "N" said.
“If you’re undocumented, so are your parents and family members,” "A" said. The parents came here for a better life for their kids, for us. You can’t blame people for wanting a better life.”
Unlike the DACA program, the Dream Act will provide a permanent solution for immigrants who arrived as children, "A" said.
“I want to pursue even higher degrees. DACA was a blessing, but I want it to be permanent, and I want to stay here to give back to my community. I don’t want to go back home. It’s not even home,” "A" said.