Sonia is a 26-year-old Minnesotan and DACA recipient. She was born in Mexico and has lived in Minnesota since she was 10-years-old. To protect her privacy, Sonia has requested to withhold her last name.
I was born in Mexico but my family left when I was only six months to come to California. That’s where my two sisters were born. In early 2000 my mom told me we were going to Minnesota to visit my uncle. Little did my sisters and I know that the visit would become permanent. I was 10-years-old when I moved here to Minnesota, a place I now consider home.
I always knew that my parents and I were undocumented, it was never hidden from me. But I remember the moment I realized what it meant to undocumented. When applying to colleges it became clear that my path was going to be different than my sisters' paths. It was difficult enough to come up with the money as a first-generation college student. And, unlike them, I was also undocumented. Having a family that supported me and meeting people along the way who helped me definitely made my college journey less heavy. I am always going to be grateful for my family. They have been my backbone as well as my rock. They have always stayed positive and told me to continue my life—that a document doesn’t define me and that I am still Sonia.
When President Obama first announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, I could hardly believe it. After failing so many times in Congress, I truly didn’t believe that a pathway to education and work was going to be given to us, the Dreamers. I was beyond amazed and happy. Now I could have a driver’s license. I could get a good job. DACA came in handy because I was going to graduate in a year and I could apply for jobs that I really wanted. DACA also meant that I could help my parents economically and be part of my community without fear of being deported.
The relief was short-lived. Only five years after it was first announced, the Trump administration rescinded DACA. I remember sitting in my desk at work and just thinking that it couldn’t be true—who would be that cruel to take away the dreams of young people in this country and force them live in fear again? When Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the announcement, I was in shock. I was angry and sad. This is the country I grew up in. And yet, my government is treating me like I am not an American.
As the days passed, all I could do was try to come up with a plan. Where would I move? What would I do? I just couldn’t imagine myself in Mexico—a country where I was born but I don’t have any memory of. I consider myself Mexican-American because I am a blend of cultures. I celebrate American culture with a twist of my Mexican heritage. The United States and Minnesota are my home.
That’s why I lobbied in Washington, D.C. last month to ask members of Congress to pass legislation before the holidays—so that I could celebrate Christmas and the New Year without lingering fear and uncertainty. But still, nothing has been passed. Congress has had plenty of time to pass a bipartisan bill—DACA recipients have been advocating for a clean Dream Act since early 2000. Time and time again, our legislators have let us down. I know that compromises need to be made—I told my representatives in D.C. that Dreamers, including myself, want to be part of the negotiation process. I am going back in February to share my story and demand Congress pass the DREAM Act before DACA expires in March. It’s hard to know what is going to come out of D.C. for Dreamers, but hopefully is something good and comprehensive—something that works for all of us.
I’m here to stay no matter what happens. I am just as American as any other born American. I am undocumented and unafraid.