My message to DACA recipients
Like many of you, I have been dealing with lots of emotions in the last couple of weeks. Every major disaster has hit close to home, especially the Eagle Creek Fire and the DACA situation have inundated my thoughts. Reading the news hasn’t helped much and every other headline is fear based and there are so many misleading facts.
There’s so much distraction and so much going on that in times like this I rely on a quote from one of my favorite authors, Dale Carnegie who once said, <blockquote>“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”</blockquote>
In the hopes of inspiring DACA recipients and their families to reject fear, I’ve put together a list of actions that we can all practice, to not only conquer fear but to succeed and adapt to the reality of our times.</p>
If the DACA developments have you feeling anxious or fearful I suggest you do the following:
Be a critical thinker - Discern the news by yourself by finding reputable and reliable sources and do your own research. Go back and read history, figure out how to look at the situation different, ask questions of what opportunities could this situation be bringing, what am I being called to do, and what is my role and what is my responsibility, am I prepared, and do I have all the facts.
Put things in perspective - Although well intentioned, DACA was always a temporary solution to a massive problem. It was never intended to be a permanent solution. It isn’t a law because Congress didn’t want it to be. Again, knowing that each political party could later use it for their own benefit as leverage for political gains this executive order termination should not come as a surprise.
Questions you could ask:
- What was happening (politically) at the time that DACA was created?
- What was Congress or the President NOT doing?
- What was the President at the time doing?
- Were there other alternatives to DACA? For example the DREAM ACT?
- Who were the real beneficiaries of implementing DACA?
Understand the phase out process
The White House has laid out a six month process for rescinding the DACA program. When you do your research, you’ll find out that it won’t end overnight and that the 800,000+ DACA holders will not be deported immediately. Yes, the threat of deportation is there like it has always been for those of us who have come to this country undocumented. The threat is real and I fully understand its consequences because I lived with that fear for many years from the time I was 12 to 18 yrs old so I know what it’s like.
Keep in mind two things: first, the government doesn’t have the resources to gather up 800,000 dreamers and deport the; second, the priority of deporting those with criminal records is first. So if you are DACA holder and have made the mistake to drink and drive, steal, sell or use drugs, engage in violence including domestic violence, join gangs, etc. you are probably in the high priority list of immediate deportations once the program ends.
However, if you are a student, good employee, overall good citizen your chances of getting deported are just as the same as with any other adult who is here illegally. You may or may not get deported and that’s the thought that millions of immigrants live with everyday.
Ignore fear-based rhetoric or good guy vs. bad guy plots. For example, the headline that the President is killing the dreams of 800,000 innocent youth is a bit dramatic and it doesn’t do any good for the youth to hear these types of statements. Personally, I refuse to believe that anyone has the power to kill your dreams. Maybe prolong their realization, yes, but never kill them. Anyone who believes this statement doesn’t know the characteristics of immigrant children. We are some of the most resilient, resourceful, smart and brave Americans you’ll ever meet upholding American values and traditions like those serving on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan right now. Why? All our lives we’ve had to learn to live in survival mode. We have had to learn it by watching our parents leave behind their beloved country to give us a better life in their sacrifice every day to put a roof over our heads. In some cases, we have spent our childhood, adolescence and adulthood enduring racism and hate. No Congress or President can or will kill our dreams. No one can kill your dreams unless you let them. No one.
Keep your eye on the prize
That prize for us is a path to legal citizenship and anything less than that is irrelevant. It’s awesome that so many district attorneys, political and business leaders are supporting the continuation of DACA and/or now discussing immigration reform for these young Americans. They all deserve a legal path to citizenship and nothing less.
Keep the focus on you
Continue your educational and professional development. In this country and with so many technological advancements there’s never been a better time or an easier time to learn a new skill or craft, to launch a business or to gain professional knowledge. If you are a DACA you have at least 6 - 24 months to focus on you.
Now is not the time to live in fear of deportation. Instead this is the time for you to:
- Each and every single day, do everything in your power to become a better version of yourself.
- Learn a new technical skill, like coding or software development.
- Earn a certification or degree, especially one in finance, accounting, hospitality or healthcare.
- Save your money.
- Live a healthy & active life.
- Step up in leadership at work, school, church and or in your local community. (Ask for a promotion or increased responsibility)
- Be a leader that inspires others to take action without using fear.
- Have a plan A, B and C for when immigration catches up to you.
- Be proactive and not reactive.
- Stay on top of issues by learning the facts and not relying on sensational headlines.
- Know the positive impact that DACA has created for this country, memorize facts, numbers and statistics of how much money in fees and taxes DACA recipients have contributed to this economy.