All across the country Dreamers continue to watch as Congress and the White House debate proposed legislation that would allow us to retain the ability to work, drive, and be protected from deportation.
However, Dreamers in Lancaster, Pennsylvania are not waiting on Congress or Donald Trump to show their community that they are aspiring Americans who wish to contribute back to the country that they call home.
Over the past two weeks, Lancaster Online has published a series of Letters to the Editor sent in support of Dreamers, the Dream Act, and the DACA program. The letters, penned by Dreamers and community allies, serve as a window into the lives of local Dreamers, some who express fear and anxiety over their future in Lancaster, while others urge local members of Congress to enact “their faith through action” and enact legislation like the Dream Act.
However, these Letters to the Editor go beyond the traditional scope of a current opinion or personal story. These letters serve as examples of how to leverage local resources to advocate for policy. In the case of the Dreamers, timing is of the essence as many could lose their DACA protections and be vulnerable to deportation.
You can read short previews of the letters below. Be sure to catch their full stories on Lancaster Online, and be on the lookout for new letters!
A moral crisis in America
By Shirley Drot
I am a Christian, like many members of Congress. We should set aside our political differences, focus on what God is calling us to do and have compassion for others. I came to this country as a 3-year-old. I had no choice in the decision to come to America, the home I love with all my heart. I am willing to sacrifice my life for this country by joining our armed forces, but because I am not a U.S. citizen, I cannot serve. I am willing to sacrifice everything for the United States, even as I face the threat of losing everything.
Debunking some DACA myths
By Carrie Carranza
I work as a legal immigration counselor. I practice immigration law by representing clients to the Department of Homeland Security as a Department of Justice accredited representative. I want to clarify what the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is and is not. DACA was implemented through executive action in 2012 by President Barack Obama. It benefited immigrants who have no legal status because they were only children when they came to this country — unable, unaware and often ineligible for any permanent immigration status.
Wishing for everything from prosperous farms to world peace in 2018
By Roger Avila-Vidal
As an immigrant from Mexico living in the shadow of all the monuments that represent freedom and liberty, I hope that in 2018 a definite, clean DREAM Act will be set in place to give people like me a chance to actually thrive in this nation. My parents left everything they knew to give me a better life, and all I want to do is make them proud and achieve my own personal dreams. Many others are in a similar situation; we know nothing else but America, and we are building our lives here only to be demonized by our neighbors and elected officials. I hope that 2018 brings acceptance and the chance for everyone to succeed. I hope that DREAMers like me will actually be able to live their dreams of graduating from college, following their career paths. I want 2018 to be the year when major progress will be made, not just for undocumented youth but for everyone who has been branded second-class citizens just because of who they are.
Dream Act makes economic sense
By Carlos Gonzalez
Like other workers, we pay millions in federal, state and local taxes. I pay a third of my income in taxes, which contributes to the viability of federal programs like Social Security and Medicaid, although DACA beneficiaries like me do not qualify for federal programs. Having a stable income allowed me to purchase my first car, donate more regularly to charity and save a portion of my income. In the near future, I hope to buy a home and potentially start my own business in Lancaster.
Ending DACA would destroy families
By Mayra Ramirez Guzman
I know that I give to this community and do not take from it. Nonetheless, I have an expiration date, not too far away, and I am haunted by it day and night. Every day that Congress fails to take action, parents like me are closer to deportation. For those who call my child an “anchor baby,” just remember you are one as well because at the end of the day the true Americans are the indigenous people.