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DACA applicant thankful for activists, apprehensive about future

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FIEL Houston is one of the nonprofit organizations that help DACA applicants fill out their paperwork.

I remember waking up the morning of June 15 to some of the best news I’ve ever received. President Barack Obama signed an executive order – known as deferred action – to stop the deportation of young immigrants and paved the way towards a work permit for those individuals, myself included.

After years of my hopes going up and promptly crashing back down each time the DREAM Act went up for a vote, this news seemed too good to be true. Under this new order, I’d be able to work after I graduate, which is news that very much relieved me considering I’m going into my senior year. A lot of people in my situation see this as a big victory, and don’t get me wrong, it is, but we’re far from declaring victory.

Deferred action leaves no path towards citizenship, and should Obama fail to retain the presidency, Republican candidate Mitt Romney could very well strike it down the first day he’s in office.
This is but a small step in the right direction. There’s still a lot of fighting left to do, there’s still countless sleepless nights for activists, there’s still a lot of lobbying and bargaining to be done in Washington, and there’s still a long way to go before Republicans would even consider compromising on anything — let alone something as controversial as immigration.

Though many are celebrating President Obama’s decision to step in while Congress makes little or no progress in immigration reform, I can’t help but think of the New York Times profile I read a few months ago about a little American 8-year-old boy who moved to Mexico after his parents’ deportation and struggles to fit in in a country and culture he’s never been in. I can’t help but think of all the college students that were deported before this act came about.

I can’t forget about all the families still being split up and torn apart. I can’t ignore the injustices perpetuated by the likes of Governor Jan Brewer in Arizona. I can’t overlook the fact that “immigrant” has become an oppressive term among some groups now. In American history, the word referred to people from all over the world who looked to the U.S. as a beacon of hope and traveled through difficult circumstances to reach American soil. It’s now being used to describe a group of ingrates who dare to come into this country, speak with an accent and mooch off US taxpayers.

I, and everyone like me, owe a great debt of gratitude towards the many, many activists out there that have made a difference, from my own friends in Houston to Washington in Congressman Luis Gutiérrez, but let’s not forget that this is far from over. There are still many battles left in this fight, but thanks to the work of the brave and tireless, we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. Even if it is just a flicker.



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