As the feelings of happiness, anger, and disbelief begin to overwhelm my heart.
I was shocked to hear that President Obama just signed an order of deferred action making the Department of Homeland Security change the way they enforce immigration law. Now, thousands of young people who were at a loss because of their lack of immigration status will be able to have a work permit and they no longer will be deportable immigrants.
Details of who qualifies:
1.) Have come to the United States under the age of sixteen;
2.) Have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;
3.) Currently be in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
4.) Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
5.) Not be above the age of thirty.
I am happy, because I feel that hundreds of people I have met, and come across in my life will finally be able to use their degrees they have worked so hard for, they will be able to help their families advance in life, they will be the one documented person at home, able to be a resource for their entire family.
They will feel free… we will feel free. We are free.
I am angry, because I think about my friend Virginia Gutierrez that was deported when she was attempting to get her car out of the tow yard, she had just been granted a full ride scholarship to study nursing at Arizona State University. I also think of many others who have already been deported, who are over the age of 30, who have a record, who have not completed High School. I think of Joaquin, who committed suicide last year, because he felt an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. He though he would never reach his dream of becoming an architect.
Mr. President, in your hands was the power to do this and more, long ago. Yes we are thankful that now, we have a victory. However, on your hands in the blood of Joaquin, and the sad fate of many other students, whom its to late for.
Those actions cannot be deferred.
I think of the 13 years I have been fighting for human rights, and of all the effort many people have put into this battle. I think of not eating for days as we hunger strike and fast in prayer, in resistance, in hope. I remember organizing against Proposition 300 in Arizona as if my life depended on it, because it did. I remember the depression I felt as I realized the xenophobia of Arizona voters and “leaders.”
I remember not having a place to live, no money to pay my phone, buy food, or go to the doctor with. I remember the many amazing jobs I had to pass up because I did not have a 9-digit number. I remember being terrified of the police, sheriffs, highway patrol and any other authority figure that could deport me.
I remember going to Washington DC to testify about SB1070 and Dream Act, and meeting with congress people. Telling them what I had been through and that I had Dreams of going to grad school, of making a difference, of being a legislator, a professor, building schools, non-profits…but nothing happened.
Arizona became more hateful, Alabama followed, and many other state promised to make immigrants lives unlivable, in order to push us out of the country.
I am trying to make sense of all this. Political moves, where the fate of many families are at stake. Many celebrate because of the Administrative Relief that students are obtaining, but what about of parents, our aunts and uncles, what about our friends that are already deported, dead, or dropped out? What relief can politics provide for them?
This is a critical, and personal reflection on today’s events. I do celebrate this victory, because I like many Arizonians know, victories are hard to come across. However, we cannot stop here.
We do not only want to work, we want to live.
We want to learn, travel, and vote.