By Leobardo Aviles
Bringing me into this country for a chance at a better life was my parent’s mistake.
Growing up without ever thinking about what could stop me from receiving further education was mine. Regardless if all my schooling was done here, I have to throw my opportunity out the window for someone else to catch it, all because I am undocumented.
DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) should be a gateway that helps out the undocumented students who are stuck in that abyss transition period between high school and college because it helps students pursue their dream career. DACA gives me, as well as others, a chance to succeed by allowing the recipient to operate in the U.S legally on a 2 year conditional basis. However, there’s no guarantee that it will be renewed, and looking at the next presidential candidates the future of the policy and its recipients looks a bit vague.
Education to me is very important, and this being a nation of immigrants I am befuddled by the fact that society would want to deny that from me.
I come from a family that transitioned to the United States in order to have job security and a place to call home. I have no story of how my parents hopped the border or crossed desert heat, instead my story is about how my parents decided to visit San Diego and realized that their family would benefit tremendously from living and residing here in the U.S.
I have studied here all my life, starting from kindergarten to college. As I stepped into my senior year of high school I learned that my college application process was different from most of my peers. I had to declare for the first time ever that I was undocumented, and this status would make me ineligible to receive Federal Student Aid. With college around the corner, I had to pick up the pace in order to obtain funds for my education.
Lucky for me, I was ranked 7 in my senior class out of 250 students.
I managed to graduate high school with a couple of scholarships that helped me pay for my first year of college. This was enough to help me up until DACA would come into the picture. I didn’t receive state money towards my education until my spring semester of sophomore year, which is when I needed it most to cover my college expenses.
With DACA on the table, I feel it acts as my education’s security because it gives me the chance to both receive a higher education and to support my family.
DACA covers immigrants from all backgrounds giving them a fair chance at progressing by allowing them to get many essential necessities such as a driver’s license, work permit, and state financial aid.
According to a study performed by the Center for American Progress, many of the DACA applicants have improved their lives through the program. As proof, 69% of the applicants have received a job with a better pay making the national hourly average wage bump up from $11.92 to $17.29 since DACA was implemented.
In the education angle, 65% of DACA recipients are currently in school. Out of those who are an astonishing 92% of them are pursuing an educational opportunities that they previously could not. Much of this is because of the financial aid immigrant students can now receive.
These statistics are proof that DACA is helping improve lives, mine included. Before DACA, I was forced to struggle to find a job and worry about progressing further into my education. I was stuck in a repetitive loop in which I could not find a job because of my documentation, and I could not get documentation because I wasn’t born here.
Now with the aid provided by DACA, roughly 665,000 people have had a chance to step out of the shadows and help themselves, their families, as well as contribute to an ever growing society. For example, Oscar Hernandez has become UC Irvine’s first undocumented medical student after graduating in 2014 from UC San Diego. Just like Oscar’s story America needs to see that investing in students with tremendous potential will help cultivate our society for the better.
Even entertainer Jerry Springer agrees that undocumented people deserve a chance. When asked about recent presidential candidate Donald Trump’s bigoted remark in regards to deporting all the undocumented community Springer responded with: “When [Trump] say[s] make America great again, it’s hypocritical, because America is an immigrant country. Except for Native Americans everyone in this country has in their DNA another country. We are all immigrants.”
I hope to portray that DACA is an essential step in helping our country move forward.
Yes, I did say our country.
Ultimately, if we take into consideration the benefits of integrating the undocumented immigrant students into our already existing society we will eventually realize that maybe, through the powerful message that DACA delivers, we can still have a promising future.
Leobardo Aviles was born in Ensenada, Baja California in 1993 and came to the United States with his parents when he was just 1 1/2 years old. He is currently studying at San Diego State for a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and plans to become a software developer.