7 Young Women Reveal What Losing DACA Would Mean To Them & Those They Love – Bustle
Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions both used anti-immigration rhetoric to back up the decision — Trump said in a statement that the choice to end DACA came out of a need to support “the millions of Americans victimized by this unfair system,” and Sessions claimed DACA had “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs,” (a claim that has been proven false — immigrants actually create thousands of jobs in the US). But it was those who support DACA whose voices were the loudest in response.
Though he has purposefully stayed quiet during many of Trump’s more controversial moments, former President Barack Obama responded to the DACA announcement in a statement posted on Facebook which said, in part, that Dreamers were some of America’s “best and brightest.” He wrote, “They are that pitcher on our kid’s softball team, that first responder who helps out his community after a disaster, that cadet in ROTC who wants nothing more than to wear the uniform of the country that gave him a chance.”
Obama’s sentiment was echoed by many politicians on the left, including Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Nancy Pelosi, who headed straight to The White House to discuss the issue with Trump (reportedly over Chinese food). At 10 p.m. on the evening of September 7, after two days of protests, media coverage, and likely sorrow and anxiety in the homes of immigrants throughout the country, Trump, at the behest of Pelosi, tweeted, “For all of those (DACA) that are concerned about your status during the 6 month period, you have nothing to worry about – No action!”
But a tweet that says “don’t worry!” means nothing to families who have already been torn apart, forced to live in the shadows, and spend their days and nights fearing the worst.
For all of those (DACA) that are concerned about your status during the 6 month period, you have nothing to worry about – No action!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 7, 2017
When Trump was elected, many immigrants knew that more fear and uncertainty lay ahead. He had already called Mexicans criminals and rapists. He threatened and then, in one of his first executive orders, tried to ban people from majority Muslim countries from entering the US. He appointed Jeff Sessions, a man who once “joked” that he “thought those guys [the Ku Klux Klan] were OK until I learned they smoked pot,” as Attorney General. And then, just days before his announcement on DACA, Trump pardoned the former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio is best known for detaining undocumented immigrants in unsanitary, overheated tents, handcuffing pregnant women while they gave birth, and terrorizing families in ways they’ll never recover from.
Bustle met with seven women who live this uncertainty every day. They are New Yorkers who take the subway to work, juggle classes and internships, eat too much pizza, watch Game of Thrones, and wish they could sleep in later on the weekends. They’re just like the rest of us. The only difference is, they live in constant fear that all of this could be taken away in an instant.
Monica Sibri, 25
“Trump has been terrorizing our community since he decided to run for president,” Monica Sibri, 25, the founder and advisor of CUNY DREAMers tells Bustle.
Monica is one of those young people Obama talks about. She has a clear vision for her own future, which involves working with IGNITE, a 5013c that helps young women run for office. She believes having more women in leadership roles and government positions will dramatically change her country for the better. She mentors other young DREAMers, and writes and speaks about the intersecting issues of immigration, feminism, and workers rights. Much of who she is as a person has to do with overcoming her traumatic childhood in Ecuador, which she left at age 10, and the ongoing struggles she and her siblings face as immigrants here in the US. “I’ve always known I’m a rebel,” she says.
As defiant as she may be, Monica is also aware that with Trump in office, the odds are stacked against her and her fellow immigrants. However, she refuses to stay in the shadows, or deny the parts of her story that aren’t quite the redemption narrative the media wants them to be. While much of the media paints DACA recipients as innocent and their parents as criminals, Monica rejects and speaks out against that stereotype. “I think we need to take responsibility for our mothers’ pain,” she says. “They risked their lives for us — we need to ask them about that, and build a community of support around them.”
Angie Kim, 34
Another noteworthy activist, Angie Kim, 34, works as a community organizer with MinKwon Center for Community Action. Minkwon helped Angie and her family through much of the immigration processes when they came here from South Korea in the early nineties, when Angie was only 9. When she received DACA status in 2013 (at the age of 25), Angie was eager to give back and help others.
“[Having DACA] has taken me to places I never thought I would ever have the chance to experience,” she tells Bustle. “I had the opportunity to sit down with President Obama back in 2013 with a group of fellow young undocumented folks to share our stories and really humanize the issue of immigration reform.”
For Angie and many of the women Bustle spoke with, the humanization of immigrants is what is so painfully absent from the current debate, and certainly from the flippancy of Trump’s decisions.
“When we talk about the people who are affected by the end of DACA, we have to think about the rest of the immigrants, and make sure the conversation around DACA doesn’t promote this narrative of ‘good immigrants versus bad immigrants,” she explains. “It’s very important for me as an organizer, it’s very important for our community and our movement, to make sure that every single undocumented person is considered just as important. Their lives are just as important.”
In 2002, Illknur’s family traveled to the US from Turkey when she was 9, and then overstayed their visas so her brother could get better treatment for autism. Now 25, Illknur reflects on how little she understood about the sacrifices her parents were making at the time, but says that a new sense of hope was granted to all of them when DACA was announced in 2012. “They’re my parents, and they care about their children more than themselves,” she tells Bustle. “They were very excited about the announcement [in 2012] and all the opportunities it was going to give me.”
For Ilknur, having DACA status was a liberation she hadn’t even dreamed of for herself. “I was able to drive for the first time. I was able to apply for jobs. I was able to apply for internships. I felt like I had this path in front of me that I was able to see so clearly,’ she says. “It was an amazing feeling.”
And now? Now Ilknur is less certain of that path, but she is not ready to quit. “I have all these goals and ambitions, and I can’t physically stop myself from trying to achieve them. I was already enrolled in a coding bootcamp before the September 5 announcement, and that’s not something I’m gonna quit. I’m not just going to unenroll because of this announcement.”
Stevieannia Elva, 23
Stevieannia Elva, 23, isn’t as hopeful. Her family is from Saint Lucia, an island that has been affected by several hurricanes this year. Her parents sold their successful bakery and all the land it was on to come to the US in hopes of having more opportunities. Now Stevieanna fears that should she be deported, there will be nothing for her to return to.