BY GUEST BLOGGER | August 7, 2014
The following is a part of a series of reflections by Jesuit university graduates who have received temporary immigration status through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which was established by the Obama administration in 2012. On Friday, August 1, 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to rescind DACA status.
written by: Laura M. Bohorquez | Loyola University Chicago M.Ed. ’13
When leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives voted against Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) it had only been one week since I had received the letter from USCIS stating that they had received my DACA Renewal application. Hearing the news led to a long sigh because it had not been the first time that DACA was targeted and frankly I knew that it wouldn’t be the last. I knew that more had to be done.
Before DACA was introduced in 2012 I was attending Loyola University Chicago’s Higher Education Administration Program and although I knew that upon receiving my M.Ed. that I would not be able to work for an educational institution due to my status, my hunger to learn and be involved in my community exceeded the fear of what came or didn’t after graduation. I understood that I had to focus and succeed in school to honor all of the educators, institutions and organizations that believed in me and their future enough to invest in us.
The moment that DACA was introduced on June 2012 I could not believe it. I had exactly one year left of graduate school and the first thing that came to mind was that I actually had a choice to pursue my career when it came to my job search. The fact that I actually had a choice, something that many undocumented immigrants only dream of was overwhelming and seemed unrealistic. The announcement of DACA felt so good yet troubling because in my family I knew that I would be the only one to benefit from DACA. At that moment I realized that I couldn’t quit on either my career or my community because both were key to my resilience and success. After months of saving money and collecting the materials needed to apply I submitted my DACA application. Right before sending it off, I made sure to hold it tight and whisper this is for us mom.
The day I received my DACA I felt happy yet troubled. I finally had a piece of plastic in my hands that lead to many opportunities yet the same plastic card meant that people could no longer use excuses tonot treat me with dignity. It was not fair. How can this card hold so much power?
Over the last two years I have used DACA as a resource and as a stepping stone for my family and communities wellbeing but in the larger picture DACA has represented many other things; 1) the resilience and legacy of the generations that worked so that immigrant youth could win DACA, 2) the reminder that youth and immigrants overall have power, a voice and a responsibility to future generations, 3) the opportunity to choose to work and pursue a career even if only temporarily, 4) the importance of my advocacy for the millions of undocumented immigrants that still do not have an opportunity to live without fear and have their humanity acknowledged 5) a reminder that the reality of DACA does not lead to a status and that because it is not a law that it could be taken away at any moment.
Ultimately without DACA I would not be able to provide for my family and thus my parents would not have a home, I would not be able to travel more freely within the U.S. for my job and I would not have been able to think about savings and building wealth for my future. Without DACA I would not have thought about the possibility of traveling abroad, and quite frankly I would not be fighting alongside my community because I would have had to drop everything to work and survive alongside my family.
House members who voted against DACA need to understand that their decision was a vote against me and millions of people seeking opportunities and humane treatment. Their vote was selfish. Denying people the opportunity to survive and succeed hurts not only the people affected by DACA but many generations to come. Although I know that the House members’ decision will not pass in the Senate I hope that those House members who are graduates of Jesuit institutions reflect on what they have learned from the experience of Jesuit education. While at Loyola I held on to the core of Jesuit teachings that we must always advocate for justice, for families, for solidarity and for the rights of the most vulnerable. As an alumna of Loyola I continue to live by these teachings and I invite you to join me.