Wednesday, November 1, 2017
President Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on Sept. 5. This means that thousands of DACA recipients like me are no longer able to re-enroll. After March 5, 2018, DACA permits will begin to expire and hundreds of young people will be without protection from deportation, a work permit, and a driver’s license.
Since President Trump decided to rescind DACA on Sept. 5, I have noticed that this has become a public health issue. There are many mental health issues that impact those who live with a future of uncertainty. This is a culture of silence that is only worsening the suffering.
My name is Cristina Garcia. I am a DACA recipient who grew up in Hood River, graduating from Hood River Valley High School. I am currently studying community and public health at Western Oregon University. Being a DACA recipient has allowed me to get new work experiences, drive, and continue with my education. My future, and thousands of others, is uncertain because of the end of DACA.
That is why I recently went to Washington, D.C., with Causa, Oregon’s Immigrant Rights Organization, to meet with Congressman Greg Walden as his constituent to talk about a “clean” version of the Dream Act. A clean Dream Act would provide a pathway towards citizenship to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. before age 18, without adding additional funding for the border wall or immigration agents. The Dream Act has been introduced in Congress and has bipartisan support.
I had previously met with Greg Walden in 2015 at The Next Door Inc. I shared with him a letter that I wrote about injustice on Martin Luther King Day at Riverside Church. I wanted to inform our community about how it feels to live in the shadows and live with a future of uncertainty. During that time, Walden stated that he did not support DACA but was an advocate for immigration reform. He said he wanted Congress to have the power to take action. He now has this opportunity.
Thanks to Causa, I was able to meet with Congressman Walden again and ask for his support for a clean Dream Act bill. Congressman Walden is the only Representative from the State of Oregon to not declare public support for a clean Dream Act. During my visit, I shared my story as a DACA recipient. Walden was respectful and listened to my story. When I left his office, I was surprised to feel hopeful. I strongly believe if our community works together, we can get his support. I am hopeful that he will take action. Without his support, thousands of people like me will continue to live in the shadows and continue to be a public health issue.
I urge Congressman Greg Walden to take action and support his district by bringing light to his constituents who live in the shadows. This is one step closer to immigration reform. I urge you all to add your voice to mine and ask for his support. I have yet to hear back from his office about his support for the Dream Act. Supporting the Dream Act is just the right thing to do.
I invite Dream Act supporters and DACA recipients to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to join efforts. Congressman Walden can be contacted at 202-225-6730.