Six months ago, Donald Trump acted to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and put immigrant youth like me at risk. Since then, Congress has failed to do its job and pass legislation that will protect immigrant youth across the country.
This Friday March 9 (TODAY), my DACA protection expires.
To Trump and members of Congress in both parties, I say this—by playing political games with our lives, you have failed me and my family.
Last year on September 5, I was at work when I received a phone call from a friend telling me that DACA had ended. I could not believe what I had just heard. Jeff Sessions had announced another attack against immigrants and people of color. My heart sank. My body froze in shock. My future in this country now had an expiration date.
At the time of the announcement, the Trump administration only allowed renewals for people whose DACA expired from September 5, 2017 to March 5, 2018.
My DACA will expire four days later, TODAY Friday, March 9. Four days (or 96 hours) separated me from being able to renew.
In recent months, more than ten legal challenges have been brought against Trump’s reckless act to end DACA. Two federal courts have now issued preliminary injunctions that have allowed for DACA renewals to resume. DACA recipients, regardless of their DACA expiration date, can again renew.
I welcomed this great news from the courts and I applied for renewal immediately. But I also knew that, even if I filed as quickly as possible, my application would still be pending by the time my DACA expired.
With the Trump administration dragging its feet on processing applications and renewals, my renewal has not come in time. I am one of the thousands of DACA recipients whose renewals are still pending.
I am now at risk of being separated from my family (no matter what DHS tells you). Meanwhile, Congress has no solution to protect people like me.
The expiration of my DACA means no valid work authorization card, which means I could lose my job. It also means no more protection from deportation. This week, I’ve found it hard to look at my daughter in her eyes, knowing that soon I may be taken from her.
DACA has changed my life. I was able to get a Social Security card, a job, a driver’s license and even travel. Most importantly, I was safe from deportation. I now live in anguish and uncertainty. I think twice before going outside, not knowing what could happen to me.
Last week, the Supreme Court decided to not review the Trumps administration’s appeal, which means that the preliminary injunctions will remain for now. This, too, was good news, but it should not be mistaken as breathing room for Congress.
Dreamers like me are already at grave risk.
Both Republicans and Democrats can be part of historic change to begin to fix our broken immigration system, but they refuse to do their jobs. Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan refuse to see me and 800,000 Dreamers as humans beings who have made this country our home. How many times do we have to tell our stories and hold marches and rallies before they will realize this?
Meanwhile, Democratic leaders, who have time and time again expressed support for our cause, have failed to hold firm at key moments in negotiations. We need them to make it clear to their Republican peers: Trump cannot set the terms for this debate. He created this crisis and keeps sabotaging negotiations to fix it.
Dreamers like me cannot wait any longer.
I need a permanent solution for my safety and my well-being and that of my U.S.-born daughter.
My daughter is eight years old, the same age when I was when I came to the United States to reunite with my mother. She is getting older and she is beginning to ask more and more questions. She sees the worry in my face. I need to be able to look in her eyes and tell her that everything is going to be alright.
I refuse to live in the shadows. I refuse to live as a second-class citizen. No one should have to worry about stepping out of their home and not knowing if they will return home to their family.
But there is one thing they will not be able to take away from me: my will to fight.
I will not go back to the shadows, I will not go back into hiding. I will fight for a bill that offers full protection, without putting other immigrants at risk. I will fight to remain with my daughter. I will fight to remain the country I call my home for the past 21 years.
Congress, my time is up, and that means that yours is, too. The deadline for action has arrived.
Guest contributor, who prefers not to share his name, is a member of Make the Road New York, the largest grassroots community organization in New York offering services and organizing the immigrant community. On Twitter: @MaketheRoadNY