By Erika Calle
“Trump expected to announce end to Obama’s DACA program: The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an American immigration policy that allowed some individuals who entered the country without their consent as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation which would allow these kids to be eligible for work permits, driver’s licenses, and to continue their educations to have careers. It may all coming to an end. What is next for the Dreamers?”
As I heard the reporter announce this, my heart dropped from shock. I myself am a Dreamer, and hearing this unexpected news, I started to wonder to myself, “What’s next? What am I going to do now? Is there anything I could do at all?”
In fact, there is. I have to be patient to make the right choices so that I won’t be so affected by this decision. My parents brought me to this country when I was six years old for a chance to have a better life than they had. Now, all of a sudden at age 18, the only chance of me having a better life seems to be coming to an end.
Coming to the United States has given me nothing but positive outcomes. It has definitely changed my life for the better; in the U.S., DACA has only expanded the opportunities I had. Education, for one, is way more advanced. It gave me the opportunity to learn day-to-day knowledge, not only book-related but real-life scenarios. The job opportunity in this country is almost infinite; I can find just about any job that would help me gain a better work ethic.
Also, I have learned how to be more reliable within the work environment. The opportunity to stay in the U.S. has opened many doors, not only for myself, but for my family as well. It is rough living in a country where certain individuals don’t want immigrants to succeed in life. One would think they should be able to relate—having parents or being parents themselves, they should know that parents only want the best for their kids, as did my parents, who brought me to this country only wanting the best for me.
Education in the U.S. can’t be compared to that of my homeland, Ecuador. What is being taught in schools is much more advanced and reliable. Not that education in Ecuador or any other country isn’t reliable, but in the U.S., it is definitely backed up with more evidence, and the information is more credible. I was given the opportunity to start from the beginning; in first grade, I was able to learn English very well. This is an opportunity that many immigrants do not have. Being bilingual in the U.S. is a great advantage that I have; it definitely opens many more doors for me, compared with those who only know one language.
In addition, I learned the history of the U.S. and that “E Pluribus Unum” was established as the country’s official motto. It is Latin for “Out of many, one.” Initially, the term referred to the separate states forming into one Union, but it has expanded to signify many and various nationalities each bringing their strengths and customs and uniting into one culture to, let’s say, “make America great.” Immigration isn’t anything new to the United States. Whether it was immigration from Ireland in the 1840s and 1850s, from China in the 1860s and 1870s, or from Eastern Europe at the turn of the century, America has been and will continue to be a country of immigrants. It is the immigrants who have come to make America, have helped America prosper into what it is today, and can help it realize what it can become. It is the education that these immigrants have received and continue to receive that has made them the people who help America succeed as a whole. Education is a gift we immigrants receive, hoping to be able to use it in life for whatever career we choose to pursue. I myself will do my best to use it responsibly, such as many past immigrants did before me.
When my parents used to tell me, “You can become anything you want; work hard and believe in yourself,” I used to laugh it off and tell myself they were saying it so that I would do well in school and get a good job that paid well so that I could help them out. As I got older, I realized they weren’t just saying it; they actually meant it. After my education, having the opportunity to have a great job that I enjoy and that pays well is astounding. Once I turned 16 and I could work, I immediately applied to many jobs, not caring what the positions were. I wanted to make money for myself so that I did not have to keep asking my parents. I knew I didn’t want to receive something I had not earned. I have had three jobs ever since; most of the time, I work two at once. It is a lot managing two jobs and school at the same time, but it is a sacrifice I have to make to help out at home with bills and also, of course, to start becoming more independent myself. It is not only at school where I learn valuable lessons but also at my workplace. As I learn more life lessons and skills, they help out on a day-to-day basis. I learned how to manage my money more efficiently and how to treat other people, whether they are bosses, employees, or co-workers. I have also learned to act professionally and to never let any situation bring me down because, at the end of the day, I will get through it, and tomorrow is another day to become more successful if I work hard and put my mind to it.
Many kids who came or were brought here by their parents at a young age can relate when I say, “We don’t know any other life than the one we have in this country.” It is not our fault that our parents brought us into this country wanting us to have a better education and to become important in life. I was always told by my parents to be the better version of myself. I never quite understood it until I was about 10 years old. I realized it meant to always push myself to be better. Nothing in life is too hard. I have to believe in myself to get where I want to be, and I can achieve any goal I have in mind. I was given the opportunity to have and create a life in this country by my parents, and DACA helped by opening many doors for me and many other immigrants. Before DACA, I was just a dreamer, but when the law passed, I could actually act on my dreams and make them come true. Now it all may come to an end as Trump attempts to end DACA. However, that will not stop me or others in my situation to create better futures. Every day is a new day, and we will continue to fight to have equal opportunities because we are all the same, in the same country, trying to become the better versions of ourselves.