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DACA student gives insight on what it’s like to be a “Dreamer”

Josey Garcia, Guest Columnist

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Editor’s note: Josey Garcia is not the author’s real name. In order to be honest about what it’s like being a “DACA student” during this time of immigration flux, Garcia asked Crusader to change her name. She is a sophomore at SCCC.


 


In today’s society, there’s a lot of people that do not understand and are blind to what the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program is and what the “DREAMERS” are all about. Many people believe that DACA students have the same and equal rights as any other student, but we do not. This program gave “protected status” to immigrants who arrived “illegally” in the U.S. before they turned 16.

The first thing you should know is that we didn’t choose for this happen to us. Most of our parents just wanted us to have a better future. Many are like myself; brought to the U.S. at a very young age. This country and its culture is all we know. We work, pay taxes, and go to school like any other citizen.

DACA allows me to remain in the U.S. with a permanent permit to work, study and a driver’s license. There are more than 750,000 registered and vetted “DACA kids” throughout this country. DACA, however, does not offer us a pathway to citizenship. It just means that we won’t be deported; yet if I am honest, that fear is always in the back of our minds.

We are scared that one day someone may come into our home and take us away, away from everything that is familiar to us. All we want is to live a peaceful and happy life without any fear, get our education to become an educated person to help our society and make a better tomorrow.

With this program, we are not able to get any financial aid for college or participate in any government funding/programs. We cannot leave the country and we don’t qualify to get health insurance. My grandma died last year and I couldn’t go to say goodbye or attend her funeral. I think twice before going to the doctor, since I have to pay everything by myself. I have been very sick and I would just suck it up because of the fear of the amount of the bill.

Angelica Alfaro
DACA kids receive several opportunities in America such as obtaining a higher education and a work permit. Many don’t know that although they do receive theses opportunities there are several down falls. DACA kids are allowed a higher education, but a lot of the times they have to pay out of pocket and don’t receive much help.

The work we put in to get into school and pay for it feels like twice the work it would take someone that is a citizen. One of the hardest parts of applying for a college or university is not knowing where we fall: We are neither citizens nor residents. For me, that’s the hardest part of filling out any application.

We ARE able to qualify for some scholarships but a lot of us don’t believe we are smart enough to get them. And honestly, we are scared to apply out of fear that someone finds out we are not citizens.  

I admit that sometimes I do get jealous when I see students at Seward get or qualify for financial aid and can go to school without paying a penny. I don’t understand how some don’t show up to class or don’t do their homework. To me, as a DACA student, I consider it a privilege.

A lot of us are scared to say we are “DACA students” because of the judgement of others and the threats. In many cases, people say that they will call immigration on us. Sadly, most of those people are friends. That is why we’d rather not say our status to anyone. We live our life with fear, fear of losing everything we work so hard to get. That everything can be taken away in a blink of an eye.

We don’t have the luxury of going out and partying like other young adults our age because of the fear of getting caught. We cannot speed in our cars or go out for a drink with friends because if we get stopped, whether we are driving or not, we are the ones to go to jail. Even if there is no alcohol in our system, we are the ones to get arrested while the other people just get a ticket. If we get in an accident, even though it was the other person’s fault and they are citizens, we can get arrested and they are free to go. We go through this everyday just because we were not lucky enough to have been born in this country. It can be very stressful living and always worrying about this kind of stuff.

There are a lot of people that could have had the opportunity to apply to the DACA program and did not because of the fear, not only for them but their families too. When we apply, we expose our family because we have to give them all of their names and addresses of where we live.

I am very blessed to have gotten this opportunity to be able to work, drive and go to school. However, the fear that all of it can be taken away is always on my mind.

I write this article to all those DACA students out there to let them know that they are not alone and that there are others — yes, right here at SCCC. We need to keep our heads up and have our dreams and goals ahead. I will never stop fighting. My determination to succeed is the one thing that no one can ever take away.

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DACA student gives insight on what it’s like to be a “Dreamer”