Barack Obama’s presidency is a glimmer of hope to many undocumented immigrants waiting for equal opportunity in the U.S. The undocumented under the age of 35 hold on to the hope of the promise of conditional residency provided by the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.
First brought to Senate in 2001, the DREAM Act proposed higher chances of permanent residency to undocumented minors. As of 2009, the Act states that such opportunity would be considered in exchange for: arriving and living in the U.S. as a minor for at least five years, graduating from high school or attending a four-year institution, and having a good moral character. In addition, undocumented immigrants would have to be between ages 12 and 35 at the time of application, according to Dreamact.info.
Among the collective voices that support the DREAM Act is Norma Sanchez. Through social media, Sanchez is telling her story*. “My parents brought me to the United States [from Jalisco, Mexico] when I was only four months old,” she said.
Now, 23-year-old Sanchez, although grateful for her parents’ sacrifice, remembers living in fear of Immigration and Customs Enforcement finding them and deporting them back to Mexico. “We were always paranoid and scared that [ICE] would come looking for us,” she states. Sanchez’s family once received a letter from ICE informing them to leave the country within 30 days. The family moved, but lived in fear. Four years after the letter, ICE interrupted Sanchez’s family once again. Sanchez recalls her first separation from her family, “Since I was not born in the U.S., my mom was worried that they would ask to see my documentation so she told me to pack some stuff, get my sisters and get out of the house.”
Sanchez’s parents were deported, causing her and her siblings to live temporarily with an aunt. After a month, her parents came back to the U.S. Sanchez claims “They risked their lives to be with their children. Who wouldn’t?”
Paranoia, however, occupied Sanchez’s family until her parents faced deportation once again. Sanchez remembers spending her last moments in the U.S. with her parents.“We have been separated for over a year and I can honestly say that it tortures me every day,” Sanchez said.
ICE reported 366,292 deportations for the 2012 fiscal year. Less than half were non-criminal violators, a number significantly important to a family like Sanchez’s. “My parents never committed crimes, never stole identities, always paid their taxes, had children born in the U.S. but for some reason that wasn’t enough,” Sanchez exclaimed.
Many people who face deportation are only living in the U.S. in pursuit of the “American dream.” Undocumented children in schools stand to benefit from the DREAM Act.
As a short resolution, Sanchez was recently approved for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. DACA provides temporary opportunity to work in the U.S. without deportation. Unlike the DREAM Act, this opportunity does not grant the legal status beyond the approved deferred action.
The DREAM Act, however beneficial, has not been enacted. The bill passed the House in December 2010, but failed to acquire the 60 votes necessary from the Senate. The future of the DREAM Act is still under speculation.
Sanchez and others have been voicing their opinions in favor of the DREAM Act. “We are not going to stop fighting for equality nor for a reform to the immigration system,” she states.
Sanchez is currently living in Dallas, Texas and shares her story with anyone interested. Under her DACA permit, she plans to start working soon.
*If you’d like to read Norma Sanchez’s full story please click on this link.
Video courtesy of: ILW.com