Humbling because the only thing that separates me from these young dreamers is the fact that I was lucky enough to be born in the US. Because of that stroke of luck I have been able to attend college, get financial aid, get an ID, open a bank account, have a social security number, travel outside the country, go to graduate school, work, drive and open my own business all without concern or worry regarding my status. It wasn't until I started meeting with all my DACA clients that I realized all the barriers they each face every day that prevent them from doing these things that most of us who are here legally may take for granted.
Inspiring because the majority of "mis estudiantes" (as I caringly call them) are honor roll students, valedectorians, exceptionally gifted and talented young people. Among my DACA clients are Chefs, business owners, future Doctors, Future Teachers, Special Ed Teachers, Math Teachers, Sign Language Teachers, Science Teachers, Future CPA's, Mathmatecians, Future Architects, Engineers, Future Nurses, Computer Gurus, Auto Mechanics, Day Care providers, Musicians, Future Pscychologists, Future Police Officers, Play therapists, Social workers, Future Lawyers, Inventors, Future Audiologists, Pediatricians and more. Some of my clients have already reached their goals, others are still working on them, but I have no doubt that soon ALL will accomplish their dreams.
Tiring because I have been working nonstop (it seems) for the past 5 months trying to accomodate the masses of DACA applicants while still keeping up with my regular non-DACA caseload. I have been working nights & weekends, and somehow managing to volunteer at many free clinics and workshops on the little time off I have left. DACA applications are very time consuming because of the onerous documentation requirements and because of the presidential election around the corner I have made my DACA cases a priority and I offer my clients a quick turn around time from hiring to filing so this has meant many, many late working hours for me.
Exciting because I have been able to experience the joy of mis estudiantes when I inform them that their applications have been granted, I have shared their happiness with them and their families when they receive their work permit and Social Security cards and some already have their driver's licenses. A truly joyful experience.
Frustrating because all of a sudden everyone and their neighbor is claiming to be an immigration expert, or an immigration attorney in order to take advantage of these dreamers and profit off of them.
Upseting because the majority of my DACA clients were brought to this Country as children, some as young as a few months. They grew up in America, they know no other country, they consider themselves American, this is their home. These young talented people deserve more than a temporary stay from deportation and a temporary work permit, they deserve to know with certainty what their future holds, they deserve to legalize their status now. Not maybe when the Dream Act passes, not when maybe when we get comprehensive immigration reform, not in 10 years not in 20 years, but now.
It has also been upsetting because I have encountered many young people who meet the qualifications for DACA, but because of the lack of documented proof they can't apply, others meet most but not all the requirements and so I have to tell them they don't qualify and shouldn't apply. There have been many tears shed in my office by youth and their families in the past 5 months because some for one reason or another many cannot apply for DACA.
But still I remain Hopeful because these young dreamers are exactly the type of leaders we need in our country and our communities and with them as leaders our future is in great hands. Now we just need to convince Congress and our future president of this so that we can get comprehensive immigration reform and legalize our talented dreamers.
This election is so critical for these young dreamers. Don't forget to vote!