My DACA Nightmare

Rosario Lopez, a DACA recipient poses for a Portrait in Santa Monica, Calif. Photo taken on September 19th, 2017. By Jayrol San Jose

Rosario Lopez, a DACA recipient poses for a Portrait in Santa Monica, Calif. Photo taken on September 19th, 2017. By Jayrol San Jose

As recent judgment to end DACA, presented by The Trump Administration, continues to marinate; Santa Monica College, citizens worldwide, and I are committed to take actions necessary in disapproval.

On Tuesday, September 5, at exactly 7am, the sun began to rise and the average person was headed off to work or school. What seemed to be a normal day in Los Angeles, known as the land of dreams for me and 800,000 other Dreamers in the United States of America, became a day of broken promises and discouraged futures. The Trump Administration was scheduled to announce their decision to terminate DACA.

DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is an immigration policy mandated by the Obama Administration in 2012, that provides deferred action from deportation and work permits to those who entered the country illegally as minors.

I arrived at CHIRLA (the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, an organization of leaders that combat and advocate immigrant rights along with social change, civil and labor rights, to name a few) where the announcement was being broadcasted live. You could feel the tension and distress among the few people already there. I was undoubtedly sharing the same emotions in conjunction with anger and fear.

Heart pounding, I rushed into the conference room where I recognized Angelica Salas, executive director of CHIRLA and an outstanding leader in our community who impacts many individuals worldwide. Alongside Salas were a couple reporters and photographers who were also awaiting the announcement, and ready to report the aftermath following the DACA news. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the termination of DACA.

As the news broke I immediately felt broken hearted, helpless, and quite scared. It is hard to even try to explain feelings and thoughts that were going through my mind. Days before the announcement I somewhat sensed what was coming for myself and other Dreamers, but after official revelations I realized this was veritably happening.

This was real.

Still at CHIRLA, in shock, I remained seated but motionless and as everything was sinking in. I hear a reporter ask me for an interview as he shared an act of sympathy towards me. In tears, I respectfully declined and rushed out of the building. I was not ready to announce my thoughts and feelings just yet. Today I take this platform and share my story. I have become vulnerable and continue to express words of encouragement that have helped me and will uplift others.

It was 1996 when my mother decided to migrate from Mexico to the U.S, bring me with her. I was around two years of age, innocent and incapable of understanding why we were doing this. People like my mother and I typically do not willingly want to leave their place of origin. Unfortunately, many countries are not safe or fail to provide liberty and a lifestyle that fulfills their citizens' everyday needs. Optimistic to find better opportunities in America, the land of dreams, my mother and I left everything and everyone behind.

Till this very day I have not returned, and I am here to stay.

I don't know any other country besides this one. California is all I know. I went to grade school, completed middle school, and graduated high school. I am now a college student, expanding my education and pursuing a career. I have learned the national anthem as well as the pledge of allegiance which I recite devotedly. I defend this country and show patriotism. I work, contribute to the economy, and pay taxes. I want to contribute to this nation, yet I am told to leave. I am told that I do not belong here.

I question what is to come for me, for my education, my work, and my security in the U.S. Many fail to realize that our jobs, education, health benefits, degrees and safety are on the line, others putting their homes and families at risk too.

The Trump Administration’s decision to appeal DACA shows their true colors and proves they don’t support diversity nor equal opportunity but instead display acts of discrimination towards humanity. Moreover, we are in a crisis. We must say no to hate. We must encourage environmental, social and civil justice for everyone. We must fight for our rights. We have the right to obtain higher education. We have the right to decent employment. We have the right to receive affordable health care. We have the right to be citizens and vote for a fair democracy. We have the right to live in the midst of racial equality for all lives.

Most importantly we have the right to resist, be vocal, and protest.

On that account, with the leadership of organizations like CHIRLA and other people who believe in justice, we peacefully marched that fateful Tuesday evening to proclaim our commitment to fight the system and ask for permanent change. Such appalling news evoked people worldwide to rally into the streets of California, New York and Denver to name a few. Here at SMC, many students and school officials also decided to protest as they gathered in front of the college library two days after the announcement to express objection.

Moving forward, I have converted my feelings of hurt and fury into power and ambition to achieve a better future for all 11 million immigrants in the U.S. which include Dreamers and all citizens of this country. We, the people are in control. We must stay informed, share information, stay connected and take action.

I am not alone. People care and will share this fight with us. It amazes me to have so many people reach out. People that I haven’t spoken to in ages have shared positivity, many I least expected to. Plenty are not directly affected by DACA, yet they offer alliance. So in the name of all Dreamers I would like to thank everyone for continuing to demonstrate support including family, friends, coworkers, professors, politicians, and even celebrities. Thank you for your support loyalty and protection. Thank you for sustaining your promise when government policies cannot.

Once again, I can’t emphasize this enough, we are not alone. To the 800,000 Dreamers you are not alone. Permanent solutions are in the works and we must remain optimistic. As they say: God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. Today, I proudly take my brown-colored fist, and raise it in hopes that humankind continues to uphold the idea that we will one day secure a peaceful world where society exists without injustice.