Ana Zamora is a DREAMer who has lived in Texas most of her life, after being brought to the US by her parents when she was a baby. Tonight, she’ll also be an honored guest in the First Lady’s box at the State of the Union. MSNBC has a profile of her, see an excerpt below:
In May, she will be first in her family to graduate from college, majoring in business administration with minor in hospitality at Northwood University. Not only is she finishing up her secondary education as a wide-eyed 21-year-old, but once she walks across the stage to receive her diploma, she’ll be doing so debt-free. She worked part- to full-time her entire way through college, and with the help of scholarships and a doting mother who always pressed her to excel to school, she is grasping onto a future that not every millennial American citizen claims.
“I grew up in a low-income community. I am a Latina. I am a woman. At some point, I didn’t have a status in this county and yet I was able to graduate from high school. I’m about to graduate from college,” Ana said. “I have broken statistics that others maybe have not. I find it a huge jump from where my parents were when they first got here to where I stand now.”
Ana’s little brother, born in the U.S., was just a toddler when he was diagnosed with leukemia. When Ana’s mother wasn’t at her brother’s bedside at the hospital, she was holding down two jobs, including some night shifts. Her dad worked in landscaping and agriculture, with workdays that started before dawn and went late into the night. The heads of the household had three young mouths to feed, and the medical bills were stacking up. Their home in Dallas hosted a rotating cast of roommates — other families, aunts, uncles and cousins — just to pay rent and make ends meet.
“I was taking care of them as well as taking care of me,” Ana recalls of her childhood relationship with her siblings. “I just felt more responsible being the oldest and with my parents not always being there. I was mature for a very young age.”
Ana’s American Dream is made possible by DACA — and soon, DAPA, which will recognize her parents and allow them to live without fear of deportation. This is the same program that Congressional Republicans keep trying to defund/overturn/take away. But for Ana and the hundreds of DREAMers like her, it’s been a success story. In fact, the reason why Ana is a guest is because she wrote Obama a letter to thank him for the program. As the MSNBC story continues:
Ana’s road to the White House started with a letter. She considers herself by no means politically active, but in September of last year, that changed. She wrote Obama a letter — it was “pretty extensive,” she said — expressing her gratitude for the DACA program, short for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. For the first time, she could get a driver’s license and find a better job within her major to build her résumé. More crucially, she couldn’t be deported.
She’s not the only one. Nearly 600,000 DREAMers like Ana have qualified for DACA since Obama first introduced the initiative in 2012. And later this spring, a new flurry of executive actions will open those same opportunities to millions more. In sum, Obama’s unilateral actions will be about a million short of benefiting half of all undocumented immigrants who currently live in the United States — Ana’s parents, included.
For Ana, the executive actions mean much more than just statistics.
“The program adds to who I am, yet it is not what defines me,” Ana said. “It’s truly life changing, it’s a blessing. I don’t have to worry on a daily basis what will happen to me for now.”