Educated, unafraid, undocumented

Samuel Cervantes

My family migrated to Houston, Texas, 15 years ago from Monterrey, Mexico. When I was five years old, my parents saw their financial stability depleting. There were moments when my parents could not afford to buy milk or other basic necessities. My dad would travel between states for his job, but the commute and the long hours were not enough. Mexico, although it was our home, was no longer a place to thrive.

The American dream — or what my parents refer to as las oportunidades del otro lado, “the opportunities on the other side” — embodied a spirit of courage that inspired my parents to sell all of our belongings, salvage what they could in one suitcase and leave with a few hundred pesos.

My story is one of the 141,000 DACA recipients in Texas, 800,000 nationwide. DACA beneficiaries flourished from obtaining employment authorization, allowing them to become lawyers, doctors, engineers, tech pioneers and respected innovators in their individual fields of expertise.

DACA represents a relief continually fought for by the unwearied toil of undocumented immigrants in which those struggles were rewarded in temporary deportation relief and work authorization. President Trump disregarded and ignored the safety and livelihood of millions of immigrant families along with the diligent efforts of the immigrant youth to thrive in a country where opportunity should continue to exist.

In the span of five years, DACA has proven to be an asset to the United States and each state and locality therein while creating a groundwork for immigrant youth to engage, contribute and better our society. There aren’t any dubious results, no data to show alarming defects. The program works, as DACA recipients contributed an astonishing $11.7 billion in state and local tax revenue.

This is our home: It is where we went to school, where we learned how to drive, where we worked our first job and where we will continue to live. The termination of DACA is not a Republican or Democratic decision. There is overwhelming support within both political parties to provide to thousands of young immigrants opportunity for immigration status adjustments. President Trump’s decision is yet another immoral and heartless attempt to chip away the strength and determination of the immigrant community as part of his deportation scheme. 

To all my undocumented peers, it is okay to cry, it is okay to be fearful and it is okay to mourn the death of a life-changing program. You are not alone. We will heal together and channel our resilience to demand a concrete legislative solution — one that does not dehumanize our existence as bargaining chips and jeopardize the safety of our of valiant parents. I, alongside the University Leadership Initiative, call on Congress to take manners into their own hands and pass the DREAM Act without heightened immigration enforcement or an ineffective, divisive border wall.

Cervantes is a government and communication studies junior. He serves as head of public policy for the University Leadership Initiative.