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Yoli Navas: I’m a Dreamer, and Watching the Separation of Children is Unbearable

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Yoli Navas is a Dreamer who interned with America’s Voice in 2013, when Congress almost passed an immigration reform bill that would have created a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants. Today, she is an intern with New Paradigm, reflecting on how far — and not far — the immigration reform fight has come.

Five years ago yesterday, I wrote a post for this blog talking about the opportunities that DACA had given me. I was going to school, I was driving, I was working, and I was also anxiously awaiting a vote on an immigration bill that would help the rest of my family, my friends, my neighbors, and my community. This bill, like any other, had its strengths and weaknesses, but it included a pathway to citizenship that would have helped millions of undocumented immigrants in this country. For the first time in a long time, I was hopeful that there would be a solution for myself, my family, and the millions of people who are here striving for a better life.

My family and I have been through a lot in these past five years. I graduated from the University of Massachusetts – Boston with a degree in Political Science and Women and Gender Studies; I watched one sister graduate high school and get accepted into college while my other sister graduated kindergarten. I watched my parents grow their business, designing and installing WiFi networks for schools, parks, and hospitals across the state of Florida.

But because of our broken immigration system, my family and I are stuck in legal limbo and can’t obtain legal status or leave this country. Because of this, I’ve had to watch my grandmother take her last breaths over FaceTime after a brutal fight with pancreatic cancer. I watched my mom desperately try to find a way to get my grandmother the medications she needed, because she didn’t have access to proper health care back in Venezuela. I saw my grandfather’s funeral through photographs in a family group text. I’ve had to watch my only remaining grandparent slowly lose his mind and his memory to dementia, while my parents and I hopelessly try to help from thousands of miles away. I’ve done all this, and much more, while watching the President of this country demonize my community.

I have been lucky enough to never be separated from my family within the United States, but there are thousands of children living my worst nightmare, and the nightmare of every person who has sacrificed everything to come to this country in search of the American Dream. I’m talking about children who have been separated from their families at the border, who are now forced to live in “tent cities” — but also about children who have grown up here, whose parents have built lives here, whose worlds were destroyed when a parent was deported. Thanks to this Administration, these children are suffering, and will have to live with this trauma for the rest of their lives.

There are headlines after headlines depicting the brutality of this Administration’s immigration policies. From raids and deportations, to ripping families apart and detaining children in cages, this Administration has become truly monstrous and is carelessly disregarding and violating human rights. These horrific policies have already caused a Honduran father to take his own life, after his child was forcibly ripped out of his arms. This news is not only heartbreaking to our community; it’s infuriating to watch as politics continue to take precedence over human life.

During this incredibly uncertain time, we, as a country, cannot allow ourselves to become a country devoid of morals. We cannot allow the 2,300 children that have been taken from their families to get lost in the chaos. And we cannot allow President Trump and the Republican party to pass any legislation that holds families hostages. Legislation like the Goodlatte and the Ryan Bill are two cruel and inhumane proposals that will allow for modern-day internment camps and the detention of countless families while we strip them of their rights. So today, I’m not waiting, but actively working against the hypocrisy and barbarity of this Administration.