Last week, President Joe Biden moved to codify Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals by finalizing a rule to transform DACA into a federal regulation, a move that would help strengthen the legality of the program and benefit many undocumented youths. As a formerly undocumented person, I know just how much DACA can change lives.
My life was changed 10 years ago when I applied for DACA in August 2012.
The program, announced in June 2012, allowed undocumented youths who had arrived as children, lived in the United States continuously since 2007, and met a few other criteria to apply for a renewable two-year work permit. When DACA was first announced, it seemed like a dream, but shortly after, it became a reality. The immediate and persistent fear of being deported and separated from my family and my home in Kansas City no longer loomed over my head.
That day in 2012, I stood clutching my paperwork, evidence that Kansas City was my home, at Guadalupe Center’s free DACA clinic. Biden recently said that day was a proud moment for him. For me, it was a moment of hope. I could imagine opportunities for my future: I would finally be able to work and get my driver’s license.
As I waited in line with hundreds of other undocumented youths, I reflected on the fact that this temporary protection was not given to us. It was won through years of advocacy and organizing powered by immigrant youths — often referred to as “Dreamers” — and I was proud to count myself among one of them. It taught me a lesson that we must always remember: real change happens when ordinary people come together to demand it. Read more