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We’ve been publishing a series of posts from the DREAMers of the Campaign for an American DREAM. Last month, they set off from San Francisco to begin a 3,000-mile, 8-month+ walk to Washington, DC to call attention to the DREAM Act and the need for immigration reform.
Today’s post is from Jonatan Martinez, a DREAMer from Georgia who recently came out as undocumented.
Being undocumented has always placed a barricade on my life goals. The oppression that one feels is fueled by a broken immigration system. Last year, I was put into Stewart Immigration Detention Center without a criminal record. I was picked up at Kenassaw State University and spent 4 weeks in a for-profit prison in Lumpkin GA, to be sent to a country that I was unfamiliar with. Although I was released on a bond to attend my college graduation, I am still currently in the process of being deported.
The Obama’s Deferred Action (ODA) program announced on June 15th would stop my deportation order and allow me to work for 2 years with a work permit. I’ve been fighting this nightmare for over a year now with the help of Kuck Immigration Partners and it would liberate a lot of stress off of my shoulders. ODA would save me from being sent to a country I am unacquainted with. I would be allowed to pursue my education and attend law school so that I can continue to help more people in my community. Without this ODA program or the federal DREAM Act, I would not be allowed to work so that I could pay for my education. Being undocumented in a state that I have lived in for 21 years means that I have to pay 3 times as much for my education eventhough I have paid my taxes since I’ve worked my first job at the age of 15. If the ODA program is implemented the way it should be, it would allow me to put my education and talents to use and give back to my country socially and economically. With ODA I would be given the opportunity to stay with my family and not be separated from them, but the problem with ODA is that it is currently just another memorandum.
I am currently on a cross-country walk from San Francisco to Washington, DC with the Campaign for an American DREAM advocating for the passage of the federal DREAM Act. ODA was supposed to take effect immediately when the announcement was made, but we are still hearing of DREAMers being placed in deportation proceedings. In Tucson, AZ we have 3 DREAMers who have been placed in deportation since the announcement. The memorandum is written, I’m afraid the Department of Homeland Security offices in the certain places like Detroit and Tucson will not not follow this memorandum as it is written.
The ODA program is a step in the right direction. If fully implemented, it would allow a lot of DREAMers like myself to be an asset to this country. It would stop the deportations of talented youth and help integrate us into society like the Americans we are. If followed, ODA would be helpful for our oppressed communities. But the DREAM Act at a federal level would be the only way DREAMers would have a pathway towards citizenship and full integration into their beloved homeland.