THE BLOG

Why 800,000 American Lives Are At Risk

Our lives are in the balance as long as DACA is under attack.

08/08/2017 14:41 EDT | Updated 08/08/2017 23:34 EDT
Morrigan McCarthy for Elle.Com
Minutes after I became an American Citizen, walking with my younger brother.

“Becoming an American Citizen means accepting the world as your nation.” Those were the words of the judge who presided over my naturalization ceremony on August 8th, 2014. But as I celebrate my third American birthday, our country is doing the opposite of accepting the world as our nation. The life of 800,000 Americans are in the balance as DACA is under attack.

The DACA program, which allows certain undocumented youth to work legally in the U.S., and provides protection from deportation, has made these immigrants feel safer in a country they consider home. These young people arrived in the U.S. with stories similar to mine. They came here as children with their families and have lived here most of their lives.

I came to the United States in 1994 when I was 11 years old from Mexico to be reunited with my parents. I got here on a plane with a tourist visa and when I turned 14, my visa expired and I became undocumented. Forty percent of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country never crossed the border illegally. Yet the solution for fixing our immigration system is focused entirely on a wall meant to keep brown immigrants out of the country.

The solution for fixing our immigration system is focused entirely on a wall meant to keep brown immigrants out of the country.

In 2001, Texas became the first state to allow undocumented students to attend college, pay in-state tuition, and receive state financial aid. House Bill 1403 made it possible for me to attend college and reach my full potential. I went on to receive the prestigious Texas for Women Scholarship from then Texas Governor Rick Perry and graduated with honors from the University of Texas at Austin (UT). But now, my home state of Texas has taken the lead to end DACA, with state attorney general Ken Paxton calling on other states to demand the Trump administration terminates the DACA program by September 5th.

DACA has allowed young Americans to reach their full potential, with recipients attaining higher levels of education, getting better jobs, and even buying homes. This means higher wages and more tax revenue for our country. A study by the Center for American Progress found ending DACA would reduce our GDP by $433 billion over the next decade. 

DACA has allowed young Americans to reach their full potential, with recipients attaining higher levels of education, getting better jobs, and even buying homes.

As Americans, we should be celebrating the accomplishments of these young people, not pushing them back into the shadows. Before DACA, many of these young people lived in constant fear of being torn from their families, like I did for 20 years, afraid that their dreams and aspirations could not be realized.

I went on to become a vice-president at Goldman Sachs, and now I am living my American Dream by being a best-selling author and most importantly an American citizen. These young people are not any different from me, and to deny them the opportunity to thrive is to deny the spirit of this great country.

Let’s stand together in protecting the dreams of these young people by calling on Texas to stop their attacks on DACA and calling on congress to pass a permanent legislative solution.

Also on HuffPost