My story of survival as a DACA journalist – Orange County Register

This is where I try to sell you on the merits of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which President Donald Trump is expected to end.

But you’ve probably made up your mind already.

So, instead, let me tell you a bit about myself.

I am an undocumented (or DACA-mented) Korean immigrant who came stateside when I was 11. My mother swears I wanted to come here, but I remember crying a lot in an airplane.

I am also an aspiring journalist. I have heard numerous cries to “get out while you are young,” but journalism has been way too fun and exciting. There aren’t that many jobs that allow you to research ‘butt dart.’

I don’t want to be a story. My job is to tell the stories of others.

Journalism intern Jeong Park in the newsroom at the Orange County Register Anaheim on Friday, September 1, 2017. Park, 23, a Korean immigrant and a DACA recipient who came to the United States when he was 11-years-old. Park graduated from UCLA with a political science major. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

 

So, why am I writing this?

Well, today is the last day of my internship at the Register, so it’s not as if I have much to do.

But I also remember reading Jose Antonio Vargas’ New York Times Magazine story about himself as an undocumented journalist. And I find Ruben Vives’ bylines in the LA Times, another former undocumented immigrant.

I remember how powerful their bylines and stories have been for me. Growing up in California, I did not feel as afraid as others in sharing my identity, but those bylines and stories were comforting. The message I heard was that I, too, could tell stories.

So it’s my turn to let people know that this path is possible.

My story can perhaps be one of those cookie cutter stories; of someone who has done everything I can to succeed only to have it taken away because of immigration status.

But my story isn’t a story of heartbreak, with or without DACA.

Sure, I might go through some unexpected turns and twists over the next couple years or so. I might have to find a (gulp) non-journalism job to tide me over.

But just about a month ago, when Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and nine other attorney generals threatened the federal government to end DACA, Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” came on the radio. And I listened.

“At first, I was afraid, I was petrified,” Gaynor sang. “Oh, no, not I, I will survive / Long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive / I’ve got my life to live,…

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