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Austin, TX – As the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program faces renewed attacks, originating from the Lone Star State, and ahead of today’s introduction of a new Dream Act from Senators Durbin (D-IL) and Graham (R-SC), Angelica Rodriguez, a Dreamer; DACA recipient; and advocate for immigrant rights, has a new piece for the Austin-American Statements outlining the life changing impacts of DACA.
Rodriguez and her family immigrated to the Salt Lake City, Utah 20 years ago. In Utah, she received her education and graduated college debt free, thanks to jobs “ranging from babysitting to making and selling tamales.” Despite her successes, she dreaded graduation – without a work permit, her job options were limited.
Then on June 14, 2012, President Barack Obama announced an executive order that would allow immigrant youth like myself to be granted deferred action and obtain a work permit. I remember the hope and excitement as I filled out the DACA application form, feeling that I would be one step closer to safety, security and achieving my dreams.
Finally, on March 8, 2013, two months before graduation, I received my two-year work permit. This was one of the most life-changing days, not only for myself but for my family. I would now be able to obtain a job, help pay for my sister’s college tuition and help my parents financially. As of today, more than 780,000 Dreamers — as DACA beneficiaries are known — like myself have felt the benefits of DACA.
Through DACA, I have been able to work in politics and advocacy, help families and children who suffer from substance abuse, and help low-income families find affordable housing in Austin. I have filed my taxes every year, traveled around the country without constant fear of being deported to a country that I no longer recognize and only remember through the stories told to me by my parents.
In 2017, she and her husband relocated to Texas. After only a month living in the Lone Star State, the Texas assembly began debate on Senate Bill 4 legislation, a notoriously anti-immigrant, racial discrimination bill that was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott in May. Then, in June, Attorney General Ken Paxton began his tirade against DACA.
So now, in my new home, I’ve never felt less welcome. Why would Paxton want to end a program that has been such a success, especially in his own state? One study shows that if DACA is ended, Texas stands to lose $6.1 billion in gross domestic product annually. Simply put: DACA works.
Ending DACA will only lead to more detentions and deportations that will ultimately cost taxpayers millions.
I challenge all Texans to stand with immigrant youth and for a better future for our state and country. We must do all we can to ensure that DACA remains in place while we also advocate for a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers, our families and the entire immigrant community. Those of us who have grown up in America want to give back to America. DACA has allowed us to do just that.
Rodriguez’s entire piece, “Paxton should consider the harm of ending DACA’s success,” is available in full online here.