An NC Dreamer longs for a release from immigration limbo

Will there be a short-term DACA fix included in this upcoming government spending bill? Whether there is or not, it is past time to give Dreamers certainty beyond short-term fixes! Take a look at this News & Observer article below.

An NC Dreamer longs for a release from immigration limbo
BY MICHELLE VALLADAREZ

Monday was supposed to be a meaningful day for many immigrants in the United States. In September, President Trump designated March 5 as a deadline for Congress to provide legislative certainty for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. March 5 has come and gone and we still have no legislation from Congress to protect Dreamers from deportation. Approximately 700,000 DACA recipients and 1.8 million DACA-eligible immigrants – commonly known as Dreamers – still face an uncertain future in a country they’ve lived in nearly their entire lives.

Uncertainty about my immigration status has forced me to postpone my dream of defending America by serving in the military. I’ve wanted to join the military since my time in the Air Force Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (AFJROTC) at Southern Nash High School.

The AFJROTC gave me a sense of purpose. I was part of something larger than myself, and the skills I learned would help me give back to my community.

Because of my status, I was not able to join the Air Force after I graduated from high school. Instead, I worked to receive a merit scholarship to North Carolina Wesleyan, where I joined the Army ROTC program. And while I was pleased to once again feel the camaraderie of ROTC, I often felt like an outsider – most cadets in the program were already in the military. I was given the chance to remain in the program for an additional year while I figured out how to fix my status, but tuition costs forced me to leave ROTC before I wanted to.

I work now as a paralegal in a Raleigh law firm and am pursuing a degree in psychology. I tell my story because it is important for people to realize what our country is doing when it leaves so many hardworking Dreamers in immigration limbo. There are undoubtedly more DACA recipients who wish to serve and cannot. Furthermore, keeping DACA recipients in legal ambiguity means we are gambling with their tremendous contributions to the American economy.

A recent court order means the federal government must continue accepting DACA renewals. That ruling is not permanent and only applies to DACA renewals, not new DACA applications. DACA recipients continue to lose their work authorizations and deportation protections, and will continue to do so until Congress acts.

Only Congress can provide a solution for Dreamers, and the attempts to compromise on this issue have not been good so far. The most misguided attempt to protect Dreamers has been pairing Dreamer legislation with drastic cuts to legal immigration. We know that immigrants are good for the United States and good for our economy, and the kind of drastic cuts advanced by the White House and some in Congress would cut legal immigration by nearly 50 percent. That just won’t work – the only solution that can succeed in Congress is a narrow bill which protects Dreamers and protects the border.

If Congress can ever compromise on a bill that allows Dreamers to apply for permanent legal status, I’ll happily continue paying taxes. I’ll again submit to background checks and will commit to staying employed and off public assistance.

I don’t want to stay in this country for self-gain, or because it provides an easier life. I want to stay because I love this country, and I’m thankful I was brought here.

I’ll also return to my dream of serving in the military. I want to help make America even greater than it is. That’s why it is so important that our members of Congress put partisanship aside and pass a bill to keep Dreamers in the United States.

Michelle Valladarez, 24, lives in Zebulon and works as a paralegal in Raleigh. She was brought to the United States from Honduras when she was 9.

http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article203507469.html

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