The following is a blog from Irving Calderon, a Dreamer in Texas. This week, Irving participated in a “Dreamer Dinner” with Texas State Senator Kirk Watson, and Texas State Reps. Eddie Rodriguez, Donna Howard, Celia Israel, and Gina Hinojosa, all Democrats. Dreamer Dinners are an ongoing effort by Dreamers and advocates across the country to meet with elected officials and make it clear how important it is that allies fight for a clean Dream act this year. Following the Dreamer Dinner (photo below), Irving wrote this blog relating his fears about his status and what will happen if the Dream Act is not passed:
Today, I have 307 days left before my DACA expires, which means I will be at risk of losing my job and potentially being deported, and yet there is still no permanent solution.
I arrived to the U.S. when I was seven months old, nearly 25 years ago. Growing up, I’ve felt as American as any of my classmates and coworkers.
Legislators can debate the “constitutionality” of DACA ad nauseam, and never agree on a definitive answer. But the beauty of DACA is that it exposed the undeniable fiscal contributions and leadership Dreamers provide their families, employers, and communities.
Because of DACA, I was able to graduate from college with a full-time job at General Motors as an IT Business Analyst. I make three times as much as my parents. I started paying off my student loans. And I started paying taxes, just like the vast majority of undocumented immigrants.
In 2010, the Dream Act fell five votes short in the Senate from becoming a law.
Mark Twain used to say, “History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes”. This year has been a similar tune for Dreamers who experienced the near-miss of the 2010 Dream Act. However, unlike in 2010, DACA has provided five years’ worth of success stories.
The country more than ever understands the detrimental consequences of inaction. Fox News revealed that close to 90 percent of Americans and more than 79 percent of Republicans support a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. And just this week, 34 House Republicans sent a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan calling for a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers before the end of the year. It is encouraging to have leaders from both parties acknowledge that our lives are above the politics. Also, we cannot underestimate the momentum created by thousands of organizations and coalitions uniting across the country to support Dreamers.
Yet we must continue to pressure our representatives to prioritize Dreamers this year. We cannot let the stall tactics of Republicans like Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) — who this week introduced a poison pill anti-immigrant bill rather than support the bipartisan Dream Act — stand in the way of progress for our community and for our country. We are on the right side of history.
Recently, a group of friends and I spent the evening writing cards and making calls to members of Congress. I took a moment to pause and look around the room; the majority were American citizens, but they were dialing and writing like their DACA was about to expire tomorrow. That is what hope looks like to me and I feed off of their courage.
If the Dream Act was to pass this year, I would spend all of 2018 thanking those who believed and supported me. I would never forget their tireless effort. The Dream Act for me would mean that I can finally focus on building my career, instead of living in perpetual fear and doubt. It would mean that my country, after 25 long years, recognizes me as one of its own.