America is the only home I can remember. I was so young when my family and I immigrated to the United State from Mexico, it’s barely a memory, yet my future in this country still remains uncertain. I have spent the majority of my life in Santa Ana – it’s where I grew up, where I went to school, and where I’m now pursuing my professional career. But, there is a long shadow hanging over my life in America. I did not have documentation when I was brought here as a small child, and Congress has never acted to address this type of situation.
Of course, I am not the only one stuck in limbo. There are millions of other young Americans whose futures in America are at risk. We are often called “Dreamers” because we have to fight for our own shot at the American Dream, and we have so much we want to achieve.
In 2012, the same year I graduated from Godinez Fundamental High School, I was overjoyed to hear that the federal government had established a new program for Dreamers. The Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program requires that applicants submit an application, pay a fee, pass a background check, renew our status every two years, and that we pursue an education, join the workforce, or enlist in the military to earn the opportunity to stay in the only country we’ve ever known.
I am extremely grateful to be one of nearly 800,000 young Americans who earned DACA status. It has allowed me to attend college, earn my Associate’s Degree, and pursue my passion for working in graphic design. I’ve since transferred to Cal Poly Pomona to finish my Bachelor’s Degree and chase my dream of working for a company like Pixar, Disney, or Marvel.
But all of that has been at risk since the Trump Administration moved to repeal DACA over a year ago. Litigation ensued. And court battles have been raging ever since.
Congress’ inability to find a long-term legislative solution protecting me, and other DACA recipients like me, could leave us unable to work, pay taxes, and achieve our dreams – instead being deported to countries that are not home.
California is home to more than 230,000 DACA recipients in this same predicament. Stripping so many workers and students out of our society, so abruptly, will have devastating impacts on our economy and communities – with an estimated annual GDP loss of $11.6 billion if DACA authorized workers are removed from our state.
During the past year, Congress has debated and discussed numerous solutions. But our elected representatives have not yet enacted one. The leaders of Congress have all agreed it’s their job to pass a solution. Yet no one has. A recent poll found 83 percent of Americans believe Dreamers should be allowed to stay permanently in the U.S. With public support like this, Congress should be able to agree on a solution.
There is proposed legislation, called the Dream Act, which would allow Dreamers to stay here and create a pathway to citizenship, as well as instituting reasonable border security measures to more effectively police the border.
I hope all of California’s representatives in Congress will support the passage of a long-term legislative solution for Dreamers, such as the Dream Act. Our time is running out.
Edwin Martinez grew up in Santa Ana and graduated high school from Santa Ana Unified School District. He’s currently an undergraduate student at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona pursuing a degree in graphic design.”
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