Don’t close the door to a classroom I have been trying to enter for years.
On June 29, a coalition of 10 Republican states led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sent a letter to the Trump administration regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Created by former President Obama in 2012 through executive order, it gave limited legal status to over 750,000 undocumented immigrants and the opportunity to pursue dreams once hindered by their immigration status. The message of the letter was simple: Rescind it or be prepared to defend it in court.
Two months after signing Paxton’s letter, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III withdrew his support and admitted that rescinding DACA is much more complicated. There is a human element to it, he wrote, and it should neither be lost upon us or ignored.
Critics argue that rescinding DACA is about upholding the rule of law. But this is simplistic. Its fate will affect millions of lives, whether it is those of its beneficiaries, their families or their communities. My life reflects this complex reality.
Seventeen years ago, I sat in the back of a taxi driving away from the Greyhound Bus Station in downtown Birmingham. My parents are children of farmers in rural Mexico. Both were forced to leave school as teenagers to support their families. Their education was a dream deferred, and they brought me to Alabama as a child to enable mine.
Education was the cornerstone of my life. One of my earliest memories after arriving was seeing a yellow school bus drive past my window and wondering when I could be one of their students. My father often came home in paint-stained overalls and stared absentmindedly at the wall until he fell asleep on the couch. I was eight, and dreamed of attending college to color in the gaps in my parents’ hopes of a better life.
But I was undocumented, and that was a much heavier weight than I could carry.
It is common to imagine DACA recipients as “dreamers” whose accomplishments or lofty professional ambitions justify their future in this country. But on the night of my high school graduation, I had neither. I felt I had no…