BY DIANA R.
I am one of at least 700,000 Americans
waiting for some very important
news from the Supreme Court that
will have far-reaching consequences
for all of us. I’m talking about the Supreme
Court’s decision to either defend
or destroy DACA.
DACA recipients are American
in every way, except on paper. Tens
of thousands of healthcare workers
working around the clock on the
frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic
are DACA recipients; thousands of
college students currently fi nishing
their semesters behind computer
screens are DACA recipients; and
countless others, like me, who work at
advocacy groups, non-profi ts, and too
many other industries to name, holding
the line however we best can, are
also DACA recipients.
I recently graduated from college,
and this is my home. It’s the only home
I’ve ever known. Taken together, the
sum of our stories represent the resilience
that shapes America.
Why end DACA now, or for that
matter at any point, when it’s clear
that every single one of us – no matter
our status – is essential to fi ght this
pandemic? Why sow division among
us and weaken our efforts to beat
COVID-19, when we know defending
the program is a common sense measure
to protect our country’s health
Like most other kids in the United
States, my parents had to make tough
choices to make sure we had better
lives. My parents dreamt of bigger
things for me, and so when I was
two years old, my mom and I moved
to Queens, New York from Mexico. I
always knew I wasn’t born here, but
there wasn’t much else different from
me and my classmates except that my
family didn’t go on international vacations.
It hit me hard during the 2016
election when friends of mine were
registering to vote and I couldn’t.
But I never let that hold me back
from pursuing my dreams of doing
good for my community and my neighbors.
I worked hard, earned a scholarship
to go to college, and interned for
Assemblymember Catalina Cruz, the
fi rst former DREAMer to get elected
to the New York State Assembly. I also
interned for the late Senator Jose Peralta,
the prime sponsor of the DREAM
Act. I remain deeply inspired by these
role models who showed young people
like me that it’s worth chasing big
dreams, no matter where you’re from
or how you got here. All that matters
is whether you’re a good neighbor to
those around you.
It’s probably an overstatement to
say a lot of us across the country are
feeling the economic pressures of the
COVID-19 pandemic. Right now my
family is okay. But we don’t know
for how much longer. My dad is now
working just three days a week. At
least we have two incomes. But it’s not
impossible to imagine a world where
I may be the only one in a family of
six bringing home a paycheck. This
is defi nitely not a reality most recent
college graduates like me have had to
consider, the ink still wet on our diplomas.
Adding to this stress, we aren’t
eligible for federal relief through
the stimulus package that recently
passed because we are a mixed-status
Over a million people in the United
States live with a DACA recipient.
And while the federal stimulus package
provided much-needed relief to
many families, it leaves behind many
like mine who are major contributors
to the fi scal health of our country.
According to a recent Center for
American Progress analysis of American
Community Survey microdata,
“DACA recipients and their households
pay $5.7 billion in federal taxes
and $3.1 billion in state and local taxes
annually. In addition to this, DACA
recipients boost Social Security and
Medicare through payroll taxes.”
It’s frustrating to know you could
do so many things right, and give
so much to your country, and it still
might not count. Let’s say the supreme
court rules in favor of the Trump administration
in coming days, will he
then use their decision as cover to terminate
DACA immediately? Or when
my permit expires? The anxiety of
not knowing is something I wouldn’t
wish upon anyone. DACA recipients
are deeply woven into the fabric of
our nation, and in our local communities.
Imagine the damage done to
our neighborhoods if we were all deported
from the only place we’ve ever
We’ve all seen the non-stop coverage
and images of hospital scenes
working beyond capacity to save lives.
Among those masked faces are 27,000
skilled health professionals with
DACA status who have been educated
and trained here in the United
States, risking their lives to help
those who need them most. If DACA
is destroyed, what kind of message
are we sending to these heroic healers?
The ones stocking our local grocery
store shelves? Delivering meals?
All of those keeping us safe, fed, and
I want us to remember that we can
thank those who are on the frontlines,
without perpetuating the ‘exceptional
immigrant’ myth. Some of us are invisible.
But we are still mothers, sisters,
and friends. We are classmates
and colleagues. We are united in our
shared hope that tomorrow has to be
better for all of us — especially those
who were already struggling to get
by before the pandemic hit. And once
this is all over, we will be here along
with everyone else, picking up the
pieces, and rebuilding our beautiful
No matter what the Supreme Court
decides, I am not naive enough to believe
the attacks on DACA will stop.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic,
racist and xenophobic attacks against
immigrants were central to Trump’s
agenda. Support for DACA recipients
and a legislative fi x for our situation
has always been a popular bi-partisan
issue, until this White House.
Sadly, we remain pawns in the President’s
hands for his border wall.
At the end of the day, faith keeps
me going. I know that unraveling the
threads that bind us together during
a national public health crisis will
destroy any hope we have of emerging
victoriously from this nightmare.
Now isn’t the time to turn neighbors
into strangers. Choosing to fi ght this
together is the only way forward.
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BRONX TIMES R 12 EPORTER, JUNE 19-25, 2020 BTR
On Sept. 5, Attorney General Jeff Sessions followed through on President Donald Trump’s
repeated pledges to do away with Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA,
program that has allowed more than 800,000 “Dreamers” to win certifi cation allowing them
deferral from any adverse immigration action as well as giving them the right to work legally.
Dreamers are Americans