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DACA can make the American Dream a reality for thousands

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The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments regarding the legality of the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, on November 12. Court injunctions have left protections temporarily in place, but should the Supreme Court make a decision terminating the program, which they could as early as January 2020, these protections will be stripped and Dreamers, such as myself, could be subject to deportation. We need our Arizona senators to act now.

Denis Alvarez

Denis Alvarez

For the most part, I know what I want my future to look like. I want to graduate from Arizona State University and become an educator. I want to stay in Arizona and give back to my South Phoenix community. These are end goals that I have made for myself and have been developing from the mentorship of my sisters, parents, and teachers.

At five years old, my family immigrated to Arizona. My parents have always emphasized that education would take me where I want to go. I am fortunate that I was here at the right time and at the right age and to have had a resource for me to attend college. DACA was announced when I was 13. By the time I was 16, the hard work had already been done by those who came before me. I was eligible to have a driver’s license, to work, and to apply to the few DACA eligible programs and scholarships. I didn’t think about what I would do if I didn’t have this. It wasn’t until I was crying in my counselor’s office that morning of September 5th, scared because what I felt so certain about once before, now felt impossible. I didn’t know what DACA being rescinded meant for me, my scholarship, and my ability to study at ASU. I had the opportunity to step on to campus as a student and I wasn’t willing to let it become temporary.

The DACA program has made my ability to achieve the American Dream a reality, but without it, I could be subject to deportation to a country I hardly even know or remember, taking with me all that I’ve worked towards and contribute to my community, family, and Arizona economy.

I am not alone in this. If the Supreme Court terminates DACA protections, the more than 30,000 Arizona DACA recipients like myself will be removed from our studies and places of work, and the state could lose $1.3 billion in annual GDP.

Arizona’s economy and communities throughout this state will be negatively affected if our protections are stripped. I encourage my fellow DACA recipients to renew while they can and ask that Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally work in a bipartisan manner to pass permanent protections for Dreamers through legislation such as the American Dream and Promise Act before it’s too late.

Denis Alvarez is the lead advocacy director for Undocumented Students for Education Equality.

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