What Happens To A Dream Deferred?

Perspective: Dream Act Kid Watching The DACA Repeal

Image from: The Atlantic

I have been struggling to find the words to properly express my feelings for the news that came out this morning regarding the repeal of DACA. Obviously it’s not surprising. We have known for a while now that something like this would be happening. The president has already made it quite clear that he was willing to ban refugees, refuse entry to green card holding permanent residents, and shut down the government to fund his ridiculous wall. Watching Jeff Session’s beady eyes shining with glee at the thought of destroying the lives of over 800,000 people who rely on DACA was incredibly upsetting. 800,000 people who came to this country as children, not of their own choice, and who probably did not even know that they were “Illegal” until they tried to apply to college or get a driver’s license.

I was one of those children. I came here when I was 11, and my family immigrated from Kenya. I grew up in the United States and remember clearly when I was 16 and all my friends were getting cars and jobs and I wanted to also get a car and a job. I wanted to work at the library because I loved books and wanted to be around them all day. When I went up to my mother to let her know that I would like to drive she turned to me and said, “You can’t get a driver’s license. You’re illegal.”

That was the first time I’d been called illegal. That was when I started the journey of the next several years, lying to my friends with cars about why I could not get a license. Then later, driving illegally out of sheer necessity, (Iowa does not have reliable public transportation), working for cash under the table to pay for cheerleading uniforms and soccer cleats. When I got accepted to University, I was unable to use the scholarship I had been afforded because I was stuck in a legal limbo. I had attended elementary, middle and high school in the US, but would only be permitted entry to the University of Iowa as an international student, paying international student fees. After a lot of negotiating I was finally allowed to attend the university, without my scholarship, and would have to write a letter to the administration every single year detailing why I deserve to attend the university (after graduating valedictorian of my high school). For these scraps, this small victory, I would have to be thankful.

I am a Dream Act kid. And now that I have legal status, there is less of a burden on my shoulders. I don’t have to worry about getting my work permit renewed every year or I’ll lose my job. I’m free to move to a different city with less social support or travel the world (to some extent). Today, my heart goes out to all those people who are exactly like me, but who are unlucky enough to start college with a callous, cold-hearted braggart who does not care about them for a president. Obama put in place DACA as a place holder in hopes that congress would find it in their hearts to realize the potential of these hundreds of thousands of kids who have grown up in this country, who have almost certainly never even been back to their country of birth, and who, in a heartbeat, would identify the United States as their home. They deserve to be here, they deserve to stay, and they are just as American as any other American. Period.

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