With each passing day, I am increasingly terrified of what the future may hold. My family immigrated to Rhode Island when I was just ten months old, from Portugal.
Because of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, otherwise known as DACA, I have been able to lawfully work, study, and build a life — something I’ve only dreamed of in the past. I pay my taxes and remain active in my community. This seems so small, but so meaningful to people like me. Through many years of struggle and hard work, my family and I have achieved the American Dream — such as purchasing a car and moving into a home. And I am proud to call the United States my home.
But last September, the administration terminated DACA, and here in Rhode Island, the lives of our family members, our neighbors and our co-workers are in jeopardy as a demagogic administration tears apart at the fabric of our community.
When the administration ended DACA, we stood together, we fought together and became the first state in the union to ensure that DREAMers could renew without cost.
But the administration has continued their relentless attacks on the immigrant community. Week after week, ICE [United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement] terrorizes our communities, they detain and deport DREAMers, and they take away control of our own bodies. Last October, the administration attempted an untested method of reversing an abortion on an undocumented teenager — without her consent.
And in nine days, DREAMers will be fired from their jobs and their driver’s licenses will be voided, as we leave them with no means to take care of themselves and their family.
Yet despite all of this, we are not giving up, because we have no other choice. It is not about being brave. It is about the constant worry that when I come home from work, that my parents will no longer be there. That I will be frantically calling detention centers, trying to find where they were taken to.
This is a reality for many children growing up in America. In Arizona, children memorize the phone numbers of immigration detention centers, before memorizing their own address.
When they come to our neighborhoods with their unmarked cars, to split apart our families, and take our loved ones from us, we have no choice but to continue fighting.
In nine days, it isn’t just our driver’s licenses that are being voided. It is America’s promise to immigrants that will be voided, her lamp extinguished, and the golden door closed.
But only if we do nothing, only if we stay silent.
So let’s make it clear to politicians: Let’s make it clear that being neutral is not an option. Let’s flood their voicemails. Call your state representative, call your state senator, and call your federal delegation.
Give them a piece of your mind, and tell them that they must not stay silent while our families are deported, because they’re too busy calling their donors from their beachfront homes.
If they say, “Wait until November,” we say, “Hell no!”
If they say, “But only if we end family reunification,” we say, “Hell no!”
If they say, “But only if we hire 10,000 ICE agents to split apart our families,” we say, “Hell no!”
Because we are not letting politicians dictate when and where we have the right to our dignity, to control our own bodies and to determine our nation’s future.