This past week the Trump Administration has decided to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This decision will affect 800 thousand people who have been living in the United States for most of their lives. DACA provides protection from deportation, allows them to attend school and gives them permission to find work.
Lesly Robles is a DACA recipient and has been living in the US for 16 years; she is currently 21 years old. Robles will be graduating in May 2018 with a degree in bilingual education from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
On Sept. 5 after finding out DACA will be ended she created this video and shared it on her social media. Since then it has been viewed over 15 thousand times, and shared 221 times.
I contacted her for an interview, these are her thoughts on DACA, supporters, haters and DREAMers.
1.What is DACA to you?
- DACA to me has been an opportunity that has given me the chance to work, study, travel, and participate in community events without fear of deportation. It has also given me a sense of belonging in this place that I call home. DACA has also played a huge role on my education. It serves as motivation knowing that I will be able to grow in my field of study and legally work in the United States. It makes me feel like all my efforts and sacrifices are worth something in the end.
2. How did you first learn about DACA and how did it impact your life?
- President Obama passed DACA as an executive order in 2012. I was a junior in high school back then and my parents heard about this opportunity in the news. At first, we were not sure such thing would actually happen but as soon as the order for DACA was signed, my parents took their savings and headed to a lawyer to be assisted during the process. We applied in November of 2012, my fingerprint appointment was set for January of 2013 and by April of that same year I held in my hands a card that opened a whole new world of opportunities for me, my very first two-year termed working permit. I felt excited and motivated by this new opportunity. I honestly felt like it was something I deserved. I had lived in this country for 11 years and by then, this place had already become my home. All my dreams and goals were set here and when DACA came into action, I felt like I would actually be able to accomplish those goals and make those dreams a reality.
3. What were your thoughts when you learned about Donald Trump’s decision to run for presidency, and throughout his campaign? How did you feel when he actually won the election?
- My initial thoughts on Donald Trump’s decision to run for presidency were, “Is he actually being serious?” I honestly thought he was kidding for a second, but he most definitely was not. Throughout his campaign I was mad about his generalizations on immigrants. He seemed racist. He was dividing the country and promoting hate and he had not even won yet. When he would talk about ending DACA, I would get scared yet I had hopes that he would not win, but he did. I remember trying to stay awake during Election Day. I was so nervous. I fell asleep and woke up around three a.m. I checked my phone and the first thing I saw everywhere was Trump’s victory. I could not believe it. I was honestly destroyed and I was really scared for what awaited me.
To express her exact feelings that day, Robles shared with me a FaceBook post she made from the exact moment she found out Donald Trump had won the Presidential Election.
- “I am proudly Mexican with so much love for this country. I have lived here for the past 16 years of my life. This has been my home since I was small. I am a DACA student studying bilingual education as a junior at UTRGV. I am not a rapist, nor a criminal. I am not a drug dealer. I did not come to this country to do harm and neither did my parents. Many immigrants come here looking for a better job. We do not take opportunities away from US citizens either. Everybody fights for the positions they currently hold. It’s literally not our fault that Americans won’t do the jobs we do. You cannot come and tell me we STEAL opportunities from US citizens. As a Latina and immigrant who has lived here for more than half of my life, I am saddened. I am devastated to learn that so many people voted to throw us out. I (as well as many DACA students and workers and most immigrants) have done nothing more than provide for this country. We educate ourselves to be better FOR this country. You can’t tell us we don’t deserve to be here. I am mad. As a woman, I feel embarrassed to learn that so many voted for a man who is so sexist. Who thinks we deserve a lower pay rate because of our sex. Who says things like “grab her from the pussy”. Who degrades us because of our body types. Really? That’s who you chose as president? Someone who is going to throw away everything we as women have fought for? I am in shock. This is surreal. This is unfair.”
4. On Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017 the Trump Administration announced that it would end DACA if congress doesn’t find a more permanent solution. After hearing this news how did you feel? What do you want the country to know about DREAMers? How will this decision affect you and all 800 thousand recipients of DACA?
- The news of DACA ending literally had me in tears. I knew the possibilities of this happening were high but I was still holding on to hope. I felt heartbroken and devastated. I felt like everything I had done because of DACA was now worth nothing. I honestly just want the country to realize that DREAMers are good people, good citizens who contribute to the country in a positive way. Many of us are under the age of 30 pursuing careers in efforts to become good citizens for this country, which is as ours as much as it is yours. Most of us ask for no welfare, so we are not an economical burden for the country. On the contrary, we work and pay taxes just like any other citizen would. 100 percent of us have no criminal record, yes, that is right. 100 percent of us. We have to go through a criminal background check every two years in order to get renewed. The decision to end DACA affects 800,000 DREAMers. If congress does not pass a law protecting us, we will all eventually lose our legality in this country, leaving us jobless and hopeless. Many DREAMers like me have spent countless hours studying for a college degree that we won’t be able to use after our permits expire. Many of us pay rent, have car loans, pay for college, have credit cards. All of us pay taxes, so this decision will also be affecting the economy as a whole.
5. Tell me why you felt like you needed to make that video on FaceBook, and about the response to that video.
- The video posted on my Facebook profile was originally posted on Snapchat. I recorded my feelings towards the news moments after I had found out. I wanted to create awareness. I wanted to let those who fought for DACA to end realize what they were doing. I wanted to get through to their heads that we are an important asset to this country.
- For all our supporters, I wanted to ask for their help. I want them to stand by us, to march with us because two voices are always better than one. I decided to post the video on Facebook after a few people suggested it but I honestly did not think it would get the response it did. More than 98% of the comments were supportive. There were people suggesting I, “stop complaining and just get citizenship,” but most people showed empathy and knew it is not that easy. As of now, the video has had close to 13 thousand views in one day and has been shared by many people as a sign of support. I feel like my video talks for many, if not all of the DREAMers in my situation and if it helps spread the word for support, I will be satisfied. I want congress to hear us out. To give us the chance we deserve to be nothing more than the great citizens we already are.
6. Lastly, what message do you want spread about this issue? What do you want to tell all those who oppose DACA?
- DACA recipients are as good as any other good citizens. We pay taxes, we work, we study, and we pray for the country. We love this country; this is our home. To those who oppose DACA, open your hearts and your minds to the situation. Acknowledge every good thing we have done for this country. The only “bad” thing we did was follow our parents into this country when we were unable to make decisions for ourselves. Everything else we do has been good, that is why we were able to renew every two years for the past five years. Please consider the situation. WE ARE NOT BAD PEOPLE.
7. What do you want to tell all those who support DREAMers and DACA? For example, the 15 states that decided to sue the Trump Administration over this issue, those who have shared their support on social media or those who have staged walkouts throughout the country.
- THANK YOU! Thank you for standing by us, thank you for taking this fight with us! Thank you for realizing that we are just as good as any other citizen, for seeing that TOGETHER we “make America great again”! Let’s fight through the end because we are here to stay!