These letters were written specifically for North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis as part of a public hearing hosted by a grassroots group, Siembra NC in High Point, NC. Siembra NC is an immigrant-led group comprised of undocumented immigrants, among them local DACA recipients.
These activists are asking for an opportunity to talk with their Senator to tell them why they think he should support the Dream Act and the issues that the SUCCEED Act presents in its current form. Although these letters are from North Carolina DACA residents, thousands of immigrant youth are going through the same feelings and emotions as they see their future start to dissipate with every day that passes.
YWCA supports the passage of a clean Dream Act and does not support the SUCCEED Act because of the highly restrictive eligibility requirement, elimination of critical due process protections, and the restrictions it places when it comes to Dreamers supporting their families.
DEAR SENATORS, WE NEED TO PASS A DACA SOLUTION THAT DOES NOT TREAT US AS SECOND-CLASS CITIZENS OR FURTHER CRIMINALIZES IMMIGRANTS.
I have lived in the U.S. since I was 1. I currently live in North Carolina. I have DACA and I am also a mother of 2 U.S. citizens, ages 3 and 9. I work as a residential property manager and have been continuously employed since I turned 18.
First, I think the timeframe to be eligible for citizenship is too long. For people like me, who are 30 years old and up, it would mean not attaining citizenship until we are over 40 years old. Also, eligible applicants would have had to be under age 31 as of June 2012. This provision would leave out other people who came into the country at a young age and who have been waiting even longer for Congress to protect them.
Second, relinquishing our rights to due process and signing our own deportation is unacceptable. It almost feels like you are setting us up for failure with the purpose of eventually deporting us.
Third, this bill would lead to separation of families. Suppose we do make it to Permanent Resident Status. We will not be able to sponsor our immediate family members. The law has allowed this for decades, so why the change when it comes to us? Our parents have been here even longer than we have. Where do you think we got the will to fight for our futures and be strong in our beliefs?
Lastly, your bill would likely come as a package, meaning additional immigration enforcement on our communities. I refuse to throw my community under the bus in exchange for my own benefit. Human lives are not bargaining chips. We pick the vegetables that you eat at dinner with your families, we clean your hundred thousand dollar homes, we go to school with your children, and we are teachers, nurses, engineers, and more. We are not asking for a hand out. We are asking for a chance to stand on our own two feet without further criminalizing our families, neighbors, and friends.
I respectfully demand that you listen to our opinions when it comes to our future. I wish to share with you in person my thoughts and opinions at one of the public events in North Carolina you are being asked to hold to further the conversation regarding DACA recipients like me.
A DACA Recipient
DEAR SENATORS, WE NEED TO PASS THE DREAM ACT; THIS IS MY STORY WHY.
I am a Medical Critical Care Nurse at Wake Forrest Baptist Medical Center and a DACA recipient. I reside in Greensboro, North Carolina. DACA gave me the opportunity to go to college and become a nurse through hard work and with the support of my parents, the real dreamers.
I love being a nurse and I provide care to the American people. I also plan to advance my career to become a Critical Care Nurse Practitioner. I was not able to make it in person to your office on the day of this Public Hearing at your office in High Point, therefore I am letting you know my opinion about the SUCCEED Act through this letter.
First of all, you said publicly at the National Immigration Forum Convening early this year that you wanted to meet with us, DACA recipients, but you have not kept your word. We, DACA recipients, as taxpayers of North Carolina, have the right to be heard by you, Sen. Tillis. The SUCCEED Act is nothing but a trap to get us to sign our self-deportation. I demand you, Sen. Tillis, to first listen to DACA recipients’ demands.
We want a “clean Dream Act.” We, like many other immigrants in this country, make a huge contribution to this great country, and I am going to fight for what is fair for me and for many other immigrants. We hope you will listen to your DACA North Carolina constituents.
A DACA Recipient
DEAR SENATOR, THIS IS WHY I DON’T SUPPORT THE SUCCEED ACT.
As a directly impacted individual who has been in the state of North Carolina for the past 14 years I wholeheartedly believe that the SUCEED Act is not the solution for the thousands of DACAmented individuals like me. I have been in North Carolina since I was 11 years old and I grew up here, which makes me the ideal candidate for your proposed legislation.
However, what about the hundreds of thousands of undocumented youth that will not qualify? The vast majority of those youth came here a lot younger than I was, but because of a technicality they did not qualify for DACA and would not qualify for your proposed legislation if you leave it like it is.
DACA changed the lives of 800,000 individuals including mine. It gave us a chance for a real life and the ability to finally lead a normal life. Now, all of that has been taken away and our lives are at stake now. The danger feels more imminent than before because five years ago, we were given wings and now, they have been cut off. Now, all of our dreams and hopes are all being taken away, along with the life we’ve built since then.
The only solution we see is a clean Dream Act.
Why? Because it doesn’t penalize us and sets us out to be the criminals we’re not. It doesn’t further criminalize our community and families. It provides a fair and inclusive pathway for everyone that belongs to the undocumented and DACAmented population without harming the rest of the immigrant population with increased immigration enforcement. And most importantly, it keeps families together, like mine.
A DACA Recipient and YWCA Employee
DEAR SENATORS, I AM AMERICAN IN EVERY WAY BUT ON PAPER.
I’ve been a DACA recipient since 2012 and I have been living in this great nation since 2002. This program allowed me to reach my dream of doing something bigger than myself. In this letter, I want to tell you the story of one of the nearly 50,000 DACA recipients in our state.
On August 3, 2015, I was sworn in as a firefighter for the city of Winston-Salem. DACA is what gave me the opportunity to become a full-time paid firefighter and a volunteer firefighter at Alamance Community FD. Firefighting has filled me with happiness, satisfaction, and dreams. These dreams are those of me growing in my profession. I dream of helping those beyond my community. A couple of months ago, I successfully completed the Swift Water Rescue State Certification. This week-long class in Asheville, NC, included victim management, swimming against the current, boat operations, and rope rescues. Now, I’m certified for the next hurricane season if my department is chosen for deployment.
I hope that you can understand that since DACA was repealed, a solution for the people facing this crisis is important. If a solution can’t be found by March 2019, I will have to go to my Fire Chief’s office and tell him that I can’t serve any longer because of a technicality. I will be forced to stop serving as a firefighter, not because I am unfit, unwilling, or incapable of doing so, but because of a piece of paper with an expiration date. Not only will Winston-Salem lose a fireman, but High Point too. My younger brother, also a DACA recipient, decided to follow my steps and also became a full-time firefighter. Our volunteer fire department will lose two willing and able-bodied firemen. As volunteers, we don’t get paid for the call that we run to, yet the happy faces and THANK YOU’s that we receive back are priceless.
I truly appreciate your effort to find a solution to this crisis through your proposed SUCCEED Act. I understand that you among others are fighting for a solution. The current political climate is not favorable, but people like you allow me to believe that not everything is lost. It will be a pleasure for me to meet you in person at one of the fifteen public events we want to meet you at back home in North Carolina and tell you more about how DACA recipients in the state make a difference every day in our communities.
A DACA Recipient