The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy was enacted by President Obama in June of 2012. The individuals who enrolled in this program are referred to as Dreamers (after the Dream Act Bill). They dreamt of a better life and they found it here. The Trump administration has threatened that dream by rescinding DACA in September of 2017. This is an issue that affects our neighbors, colleagues, and loved ones. It affects people in every state.
This is but one story of DACA in Alabama. Its written by a young man who does not want his name used, but who is active in the community and with progressive causes.
My family and I came here in 2005. We came on a B1/B2 Visa (Border Crossing Visa). We lived in Tijuana l, Baja, California until April, 2005.
We arrived in Decatur, Alabama since my Dad had a brother that lived there.
I was only 10 years old and my sister was in Pre-K. We knew no English at all and everything in the states was foreign.
We overstayed our visa and it expired a few years later, leaving my whole family without proper documentation.
My sister and I worked hard and learned English. Soon, we started receiving student of the month awards and such. My parents told us the main reason they came here was to give us a better future and a better education. That was our only job, to be studious. They would work.
Everyday we would wake up and hope my dad or mom wouldn’t be stopped by the police. Everyday was unknown.
We only had one car and so my mom had to walk us to school, which was about 2 miles away and then she would walk back home after dropping us off.
I turned 16 and couldn’t drive to school because I had no driver’s license. At this point, I was aware I was undocumented.
My parents told me to not give up, as we would find a way for me to go to college.
My sister and I were in honor classes. Always making straight A’s and making sure we did our part.
Going to college was almost an idea we all knew it was not going to happen, even with an advanced academic diploma and IB courses.
Then, the summer before my senior year, I was at the University of Alabama for an Alabama Boys State meeting. I was in the dorm room during a break when President Obama came out to the garden in the White House and made the announcement about DACA.
Being at the University of Alabama was depressing as I thought I would never get to go to college. It was a bittersweet moment to realize that I was going to be given the opportunity to go to school, work, and get a driver’s license all while I was sitting in a dorm room of a college campus.
I immediately called my mom crying my eyes out. It was right before my senior year and perfect timing to attend college right after graduation.
This was all just a big blessing given by President Obama to many of us.
That was not the end; we had to keep fighting. The state of Alabama was one of many states not wanting to grant state ID’s to DACA recipients. We attended rallies and marches until Alabama started issuing state ID’s. We also had to fight with universities and colleges that wanted to charge international or out of state fees instead of instate to DACA recipients.
Obviously, we also got that fixed with rallies and marches and speaking out for all of us.
I got to attend the University of Alabama and then transferred to the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
My status will not be affected as I am now married and my wife is a US citizen. But, many family members, including my sister and friends will be affected.
I would like to point out that we have paid for college in cash. No loans or scholarships as I couldn’t receive any type of financial aid as a DACA recipient.