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DREAMer, DACA Recipient Yoli Navas: 'We Live in Fear Every Day'

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This week, the Senate will vote on final passage on the Gang of 8 immigration bill, moving it one big step forward in the legislative process.  Today, we held a live Google Hangout with Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ, one of the Gang of 8) and other immigration reform advocates to discuss the legislative state of play and what will come next for reform.

In light of this, the following is a blog post from DREAMer and DACA recipient Yoli Navas, writing about her application for deferred action (which was announced one year ago this month) and how a temporary solution is not enough–we must also have real immigration reform with a path to citizenship.

By Yoli Navas:

Thirteen years ago, in the midst of political turmoil, my parents decided to migrate from Venezuela to the United States of America. I was six years old, far too young to understand what was happening in our country, and too young to know why my parents had suddenly become targets to the government. On April 26th, 2000 my dad landed in the U.S. and on June 20th, 2000 my mother, my sister, and I followed on a Lan Chile flight. It took 9 years of searching before my parents found a lawyer willing to take our case. Another 4 years and thousands of dollars later, we have only scratched the surface of the mentally and financially draining immigration process.

In June of 2012 DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was introduced by President Obama. According to USCIS this meant:

Certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several key guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and would then be eligible for work authorization.

I am a DACA recipient. DACA has given me, and many others, the opportunity to work, drive, and go to school without fear of deportation. For all of us DREAMers in the U.S. it was the first glimmer of hope after years of living in the shadows. However, the feelings of security and hope for change were shortlived. The reality is that DACA is a temporary solution and thousands of undocumented immigrants (including the parents and family members of DREAMers) are still being deported every day.

Those of us who are fortunate enough to still have our parents here live in fear every single day. If my parents are deported, I would either be left without a family, or I would be the sole caretaker of my 13-year-old and 11-month-old sisters. This could mean being separated from my family for years, or having to drop out of school just to be able to take care of my sisters. If I had to drop out, that would mean I would no longer be eligible for DACA, which would lead to my deportation as well. My parents have paid their taxes, they work, and they contribute every day, but my reality is that I have to be prepared for a day when they could be taken away. I am not alone. There are thousands who have had their parents or family members taken away, and thousands more who live in fear every day.

I have spent the majority of my life in silence or lying about my legal status in the U.S.  in fear of being rejected by society and in fear of being deported. Today, I speak not only for myself, but also for thousands of DREAMers, undocumented parents, and millions immigrants who contribute to this country. DACA was the bandage put on a wound that needed surgery, and it is up to our Congress to be the healers and leaders of change of an outdated and broken immigration system.