My family brought me to America when I was just 3 years old. My dad moved us here for the same reason as most immigrants, in search of a better life. I learned how to walk here and how to drive. I had my first kiss and my first heartbreak all on American soil. I went to school (and skipped school), I made friends and lost a few along the way. My entire Coming of Age story took place in this country, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Yet, I am fortunate enough to be a citizen. So, no one is kicking me out, ever. Like it or not, this young and handsome Pakistani man is here to stay. My nearly 800,000 counterparts around the nation however, aren’t so lucky. Even if they gave 150 percent to anything they did, whether at school or work, children of illegal immigrants had to live in constant fear. Fear that in any moment, their livelihood can be snatched away. All because of a choice they had no say in, because their parents sacrificed everything so their children can have a future.
Until former President Barack Obama took executive action in 2012 and established the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA essentially protects minors and children of undocumented immigrants from being deported. They are called Dreamers, a suitable name for the individuals who mostly hope to establish the best version of themselves.
Dreamers are your classmates, coworkers, and friends. DACA has allowed them to obtain valid driver’s licenses, enroll in college, and legally secure jobs. Also, contrary to popular belief, they pay income taxes. The established program allows these folks to pursue their goal and chase their passions — or to simply live a normal life. That is, until President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the administration is rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. They have however, given Congress a six-month window to act before any currently protected individuals lose their ability to work, study and live in the U.S.
But why put this stress on our Dreamers at all? How do you expect them to focus on their daily tasks and obligations when the looming threat of deportation has sprung its ugly head once again? I can’t imagine having to live with the anxiety of being removed from the only home I’ve ever known. No one deserves to live under the dark cloud of losing everything you’ve worked so hard for, especially not our young people.
Picture yourself trying to study for a test or get ready for a shift with the possibility of being shipped to a foreign land in the back of your mind. I know I wouldn’t want to be forced back to my home country. I’m way too used to being able to access hamburgers, tacos, and Chinese food all in one block.
The saddest part is that most of the Dreamers work extremely hard. They strive to excel, with a chip on their shoulder, knowing their actions are building towards something much greater than themselves. They understand the alternatives, the pain their parents went through, and therefore are more likely to be grateful of every opportunity.
Every single American should relate to this issue. We are all immigrants. Papers or no papers, we came here for the same reason: the Pursuit of Happiness. A better life for ourselves and our family, and to strive for something more. Who are we to snatch the same chance away from a teenage boy, or a young woman in her twenties?
Dreamers are just as American as you and me, and they deserve equal access to football, country music, and giant fried Twinkie burgers… along with freedom, financial stability, and all that other good stuff. Millennials should especially take the possibility of ending DACA to heart. The guy you saw running to catch that 8 a.m. class, or the girl who worked two consecutive shifts serving your coffee after school could be a Dreamer. They want and work for the same things you and I do, should we deny that to them because they don’t have the proper piece of paper?
Americans throughout the country should support our young people, documented or undocumented. They should be allowed to stay and establish their dreams. No one should lose their chance at a better future because of politics or bigotry. We’re all dreaming, chasing after love and purpose. We should all stand by one another, because in essence, we’re all Dreamers.