For more than a decade, young immigrants who came to this country as children have been fighting for our place in the country that we call home. In June of 2012, we celebrated the creation of DACA, a program that allowed us to live, work, and more fully and freely contribute to our families and communities. That day marked the first time in many of our lives that we weren’t living under the threat of deportation: the first time we could see a path for us to work legally, to further our education, and pursue our dreams in the country we call home. It was a moment paved by the blood, sweat, and tears of thousands of immigrant advocates who fought for us to have these basic protections. We are so thankful for those who made these dreams possible, and the fact that DACA is still here, and that we are still able to live and work across the country is a testament to the strength and power of this movement. It is a reflection of the incredible bravery and dedication of thousands of immigrants, allies, lawyers and others impacted by immigration.
Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments to decide whether DACA, and the protections that have allowed us to thrive these seven years, will continue to exist. It represents a crossroads in this long and difficult journey; a decision that comes with immeasurable consequences for our lives, and the millions of our families, friends, co-workers, and communities. As we stand here in celebration of DACA recipients and their families, we know this struggle is not over, and no matter the result, we will continue to fight for our place in the country we call home.
DACA was never a perfect solution, but it has allowed us to live our lives, to pursue our dreams, to build families, and to contribute to our communities. It gave us a chance, and with it, we have shown yet again what immigrants can do when given the opportunity to contribute. We are just a small portion of the millions of immigrants across this country who are being held back by a system that is keeping so many of our family members, friends, and colleagues from achieving their full potential. For decades, lawmakers in Washington have been unable or unwilling to pass legislation to fix our broken immigration system. As a result, millions of people living and working as our neighbors, raising their children in our communities, and filling the congregations of our churches have no opportunity to get in line and earn a chance at citizenship. It must be fixed.
Many people across the country have come to know and sympathize with the plight of so called “Dreamers,” but the reality is that our lives have been built on the shoulders of the millions who came before us, and their dreams are no less powerful or deserving than ours. The dreams of the undocumented farm worker who toiled in the fields so his daughter could study to be a teacher. The dreams of the housekeeper with Temporary Protected Status who cleaned hotel rooms for 20 years and helped send her son to law school. The dreams of the aunt who fell out of status after losing a job, but who still worked two shifts a day in a meat processing plant so her niece could study to become a doctor. Tomorrow, as we stand before the highest court in the land, we do so on behalf of not only the 700,000 DACA recipients who are protected by this program, but in solidarity with, and on behalf of, the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants across the country who have made our stories possible. Because we are all Dreamers, and we know that our home is here.
Research Associate (Hometown: Houston, Texas)
D.C. Office Manager, People & Operations Associate (Hometown: Newark, New Jersey)
Director of State Immigration Campaigns (Hometown: Newark, New Jersey)
Immigration Press Director (Hometown: San Antonio, Texas)
Digital Campaigns Manager (Hometown: Miramar, Florida)
Technology Associate (Hometown: Napa Valley, California)
Information Systems Associate (Hometown: West Valley City, Utah)
Colorado State Immigration Manager (Hometown: Denver, Colorado)
Government Relations Manager (Hometown: New Milford, Connecticut)
Georgia State Immigration Associate (Hometown: Dalton, Georgia)
Below please find quotes from DACA Recipients on FWD.us’ Staff:
“When I close my eyes and think of home, where I am close to my parents, my friends, and community, the only place I can think of is the United States. Every memory of my childhood, teenagehood, and adulthood is in this country, the only one I know. November 12th is a day that I will always remember, and one that I know will be full of courage, love, and unity. —Samuel Cervantes, Research Associate (Hometown: Houston, Texas)
“Tomorrow is more than just the next chapter in the struggle for immigrant rights. It will be a celebration of the incredible resolve, dedication, and courage of young immigrants like me who continue to fight for our place in the country we call home. I’m still hopeful that the court will rule to protect DACA, but no matter the outcome, I know my home is here.” —Daniela Chomba, D.C. Office Manager, People & Operations Associate (Hometown: Newark, New Jersey)
“I was 11 years old when I moved to the U.S. I was a child and understood that my parents were making a difficult decision to offer me a new home full of dreams and desires. I was not ‘brought here,’ I came with free will and intentionality to live a better life for myself and my family. In my new home, I have friends, teachers and mentors, dreams and professional goals. I have a future to keep fulfilling. Home is here, in Newark, New Jersey.” —Pamela Chomba, Director of State Immigration Campaigns (Hometown: Newark, New Jersey)
“I came to the United States with my family more than two decades ago as a 6-year-old kid, worried and afraid of my new surroundings, but curious about what the future would hold. In the 23 years since, San Antonio has become the place I call home. It’s where I learned basic math, and where I learned to drive. It’s where I got my first job, where I met my best friends, and where I dreamt of building a career in journalism and politics. All of my successes I owe to my parents, who stepped into total darkness with nothing but big hopes and even bigger dreams when they made the life-changing decision to come to Texas 23 years ago. For all of us, home is nowhere but here.” —Leezia Dhalla, Press Director (Hometown: San Antonio, Texas)
“I arrived in Miami, Florida, in the summer of 2000 when I was just 11 years old. The United States, and more specifically the State of Florida, is what I’ve come to know as home. Florida is where I went to middle school, where I learned how to drive, where I got my first job and first kiss. My life, friends, community, and memories are here — the home I’ve lived in for the past 19 years.” —Juan Escalante, Digital Campaigns Manager (Hometown: Miramar, Florida)
“Home for me is where my family is. Home is waking up to the smell of my mother’s cooking on a Sunday morning. Home is reading a bedtime story to my little nephew. It’s giving my grandfather a hug. It’s random adventures with my best friend, and coffee chats with my high school track coach. I have lived in the United States since before I attended my first day of kindergarten. This is where my family and chosen family are, and this is my home.” —Luis Espino, Technology Associate (Hometown: Napa Valley, California)
“I have lived in the U.S. since I was six months old. I grew up in Utah, which is where I took my first steps, spoke my first words, and made my first friends. This is the only country I know, the country I love, and the country I want to continue to give back to. My home is here and I’m grateful to be a part of the November 12th rally to protect DACA.” —Paco Juarez, Information Systems Associate (Hometown: West Valley City, Utah)
“DACA has never been about being the first one to graduate college, to own a home or a car, or to get a job that pays fairly – it’s about not being the only one. This fight is so much bigger than any one of us: it’s about honoring the love and sacrifice of our parents, keeping our families together, fighting for those who didn’t qualify for DACA, and fighting for the 11 million people in our community who are still undocumented and waiting. Our journey to this moment has not been easy, but it has awakened us to our power, and it has shown us what we already knew to be true – that our home is here.” —Marissa Molina, Colorado State Immigration Manager (Hometown: Denver, Colorado)
“I have a lifetime of memories in this country that I have called home since I was five years old. I remember riding my bike without training wheels for the first time, the field trips to baseball games and museums I took in elementary school, and proudly walking across the stage during my high school and college graduations. This is my home, it is the place I have built countless friendships and memories. And it’s the place that one day, I see myself continuing to grow and raise a family. Although my future is as uncertain as ever and we do not know how the Justices will rule, I am grounded in the love and support from my family, friends, and community, and I know we will continue to fight until all 11 million undocumented people in the United States are on a pathway to citizenship. Because our home is here.” —Maria Praeli, Government Relations Manager (Hometown: New Milford, Connecticut)
“I was brought to this country when I was three months old and I consider myself a proud Georgian. Growing up, my teachers taught me about the great values that help build this nation. I’m blessed to have been raised in the greatest country on earth, and DACA has allowed me to live the American dream. I’m honored to stand side by side with Dreamers from across the nation on November 12th. We will never give up, and we will never yield to fear. Our home is here!” —Jaime Rangel, Georgia State Immigration Associate (Hometown: Dalton, Georgia)