For Us DREAMers, These “Bread Crumbs” Should Push Us Even Harder for Real Reform

A longtime DREAM Act organizer comments on the complexity of emotions surrounding Obama's new policy giving some undocumented youth temporary work permits.

It’s been a long time coming. The struggles have been many, and yet there is no end to the very issue that keeps many like myself with hands tied, as if we were criminals or just simply not accepted. My story is like the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers who have come to this country by their parent's will, in search of a better future for their children. My story starts off at the age of five, an age of innocence, where the concept of being legal or illegal did not exist.

Being the youngest of three, in a household of all boys, I grew up living and dreaming the same as many other kids. Though life was not easy for my family, somehow I can't say I had a bad childhood, family was all we had, and it was enough to overcome many of the struggles my family and I faced even at a young age. Like many undocumented immigrants, we quickly learned the importance of hustling the best way we knew how. We were blessed in many ways to establish our own family business through the blood, sweat and tears of each and every member of the family. I grew up working hard as that was the only way my parents taught my brothers and I to work. I can still remember the importance my parents put into our education, and even though during those times I never understood why, I now know exactly the reason why my parents would push my brothers and I to strive for that “A”, even if it was in a physical education class. Like many DREAMers, reality has a way of hitting us in various stages of our lives.

My reality check came early in high school as those dreams of one day having a license, buying a car, or holding a job were thrown out of the window due to my status in this country. They say that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and that was proven through the many struggles and barriers my brothers and I have overcome in our education and life in general. The many sleepless nights spent on research papers during my stint at junior college and San Jose State University have not been in vain, as I still remind myself that the sacrifices my parents made the day they left Mexico were for a better future for my brothers and I. The struggle for equality of all DREAMers continue to the present day. I have not given up hope that some day many like my brothers and I will be given a chance to prove our worth to those who doubt. As a saying goes, “when one door closes, another opens,” and I remain optimistic about the opportunities that may arise.

I can still remember vividly the morning of June 15th, when I was awakened by a text that I never would have thought to receive. It was approximately 7:25am on that Friday when I read a text that said, “BREAKING: White House grants relief from deportation to DREAMers...” I read it quickly and put my phone down and proceeded to process the information in my head as I slowly and gently lay my head back down on my pillow. It did not take much longer for me to hear my oldest brother open his room door only to head to the kitchen and describe the news he himself received to my parents. To which he quickly proceeded to my room only to find me lifting my phone and saying, “I got the text.” My brother did not waste a second as he walked over and gave me a hug and said, “brother you made it.”

It was a feeling of surprise and disbelief, and at the time little was being said besides the criteria that Obama's deferred action policy would require. As I walked over to the kitchen for details of the news, I quickly noticed the expression of happiness of my parents as I walked over to the TV. My parents did not waste much time as they walked over to hug me and tell me, “hijo ya la hicistes…son, you made it, all we have endured in this country as undocumented immigrants has been for a better future for you and your brothers, and now you have a chance to prove all you have learned through your struggles!”

It is hard to describe what I felt at the time as many thoughts raced through my mind. I felt happy and yet saddened that the reality of this meant that many of the veterans in the struggle to fight for the DREAM Act would be shut out of an opportunity to receive a work permit, and to be relieved from deportation – due to the age limitation. My focus shifted on the face of my dad as he put his hand on my shoulder and proceeded to weep, and as he looked up at me he said, “mijo, don’t ever give up, this is what your mother and I have prayed for, and I am sure this opportunity will lead to something positive in the near future.”

My oldest brother, of 34 years of age, was excited about the news and yet I could still see a hint of sadness in his eyes as one criteria alone would exclude his opportunity for a work permit. A struggle within me would lead me to realize that after all the struggles DREAMers have faced, we would only be given “bread crumbs” at a crucial time of the president’s campaign for re-election. It is not easy to accept that youth would be used as a powerful tool to win the Latino vote, but then again, what other option do folks have when faced with the reality of a Republican nominee who has not been supportive of an opportunity for DREAMers or comprehensive immigration reform.

Many questions cross my mind as everything is still fresh and not yet concrete about what the future holds for the deferred action policy. And the most important of all is what remains of those DREAMers such as my brother who have simply been excluded of this opportunity due to age?

Like many I am fortunate to be able to qualify for the deferred action policy, and even though it is not what we DREAMers have fought for, I believe that it should push us fortunate DREAMers to continue the struggle for a just and concrete immigration reform. I truly believe that we need to be reminded that in order for us to know where to go, we need to constantly be reminded where we came from, and the struggles we overcame in the process. I have heard the fear and doubts many have about this policy, and I can only speak for myself when I say that we have two options regarding the policy, which are to either accept it and prove the critics wrong, or continue to live in fear of those who have oppressed us for too long.

This article is part of the categories: Immigration  / Law & Justice 
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