My parents tried to protect me from the realities of the world in order to protect me from certain harsh truths. But growing up trying to find out about the status of my undocumented family didn’t save me from the reality that I wouldn’t have the same opportunities as my friends and classmates.
Like all immigrants, DREAMers – undocumented immigrants who came here as children and had no way to adjust their status – can testify to the struggle to integrate into American culture. And the fears and insecurities of being undocumented connections struggling. But when I turned 16, everything changed thanks to the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program.
All nearly 700,000 DREAMers with DACA have their own unique story. In my case, as a Nigerian immigrant, I remember that DREAMers represent a diverse group of countries of origin around the world. However, my story and each of the other 700,000 DACA recipients also underscores a common reality: Although DACA is a life changing program that has strengthened our future and our country, temporary status is not the goal or the ultimate solution for us.
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Despite the Trump administration’s recent loss to the Supreme Court on DACA, they are again threaten to terminate the program Shortening the DACA from two-year status to one-year status for current recipients and refusing to accept new applications. Our future as DREAMERS in a country we call home should not be based on the whims of any one person. Instead, it wanted to finally pass a permanent law correction for DREAMer – a popular and overdue idea that would keep our lives, as well as our families, locations, and jobs across America safe.
“While I’m grateful for DACA, I’ve always known that this temporary status was just a tiny reflection of the things I could do if I had the full privileges of US citizenship. “
When I was four, my family and I moved from Nigeria to Maryland on a temporary visa. But like many families that have moved here for generations, my parents were motivated to stay motivated to achieve a better life and a better future for their children.
My childhood was tough. I was bullied at school for having an African accent and name, and when I went home I had to deal with the stress of my parents who were constantly trying to make ends meet with their simple jobs.
I still remember my father’s excited words in November 2014: “There is something that Obama started that you can apply for and work.” At the time, I couldn’t fully understand what DACA was, but if it meant I could work, it meant I could make money and finally be able to ease my parents’ stresses and strains. When I got DACA in 2015, I started working and learning how to drive. At last I could just start doing things that I wasn’t allowed to do before.
While I was grateful for DACA, I always knew that this temporary status was just a tiny reflection of the things I could do if I had the full privileges of US citizenship. What I really strive for is full participation in the country where I have lived for most of my life. I want to plan my life and my future more securely than in two-year steps. and to return to Nigeria after 17 long years to see my family again without fear of not being able to return to my native America.
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Despite my DACA status and academic accomplishments, such as graduating from high school as a class validator, there were still many barriers, such as the fact that DACA recipients are denied federal funding. Fortunately, thanks to organizations like TheDream.USThousands of DREAMers like me can now go to college and afford college.
Today, more than 200,000 DACA recipients are working on the front lines to help mitigate the COVID-19 outbreak. We become doctors, teachers, and policymakers who our parents dreamed of would work to fight for and care for our communities.
As a student serving as president of the Student Government Council at Trinity Washington University, I plan to join them one day when I graduate this fall for a Masters in Public Policy.
So there is reason to hope that the long road to full DREAMers participation in American life lies ahead: the first attempt to pass the Dream Act was in 2001; DACA was announced in 2012; and the recent Supreme Court ruling blocking Trump’s attempt to end the DACA reflected not only the majority in the court but the overwhelming desires of the American people who know Dreamers as friends, classmates, and co-workers.
Our home is Here and it is time we finally passed laws that affirm this truth.
This story about DACA receivers was produced by The Hechinger report, a not-for-profit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Log In Here for Hechinger’s newsletter.
Ewaoluwa Ogundana is a DACA recipient and a senior at Trinity Washington University, where she serves as the President of the Student Government Council.
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