by Cecilia Dos Santos and Colleen Muse, LAYC DREAMER Committee
Throughout this election, policy issues that affect real people have been neglected and overshadowed by every new political scandal. This election season, LAYC’s DREAMER Committee* would like to share with you a story of one youth whose life could be changed by real policy change: immigration reform.
AnaMaria** made the perilous journey across the US-Mexico border when she was just five years old. Though she was able to reunite with her father, adjusting to a life in the DC area was not easy for her or her family. A determined student, AnaMaria has diligently participated in our Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers’ programs, including regular tutoring to keep up her strong academic record. Without documentation, however, AnaMaria had little hope of achieving her dream of attending college.
I want to become a doctor, FBI agent, a psychologist, or a teacher because I enjoy helping people. That is part of why I volunteer so much…I want to get the opportunity to do something, to help people, to be someone in life. I want to be able to complete my education, get a job, and help my family out. My economy [sic] is not very good but my parents work very hard to provide for me and my younger brother and I am very thankful for having them as my parents. I want to one day be able to repay them at least a fraction of what they have done for me.”AnaMaria
LAYC stands for comprehensive reform that allows all dreamers like AnaMaria to achieve their educational and career goals. At LAYC, we are committed to supporting all immigrant families. We condemn destructive and racist proposed policies that do not reflect our American values and do not value the contributions and strengths of our country’s immigrant youth. We want an end to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids and deportations that have broken families apart and instilled fear in our communities. We are committed to expanding our support for both Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) youth and others who are not eligible for DACA, including much needed legal and social services for the increasing number of Central American refugee children and youth fleeing violence in their home country. We are focused on the future of our community and LAYC’s youth, and we’re ready for our next President to prioritize the challenges, concerns, and hopes of our immigrant families.
No matter the outcome of our election, we know we have more work to do in order to achieve safety, justice, and humanitarian relief for all our immigrant families. In solidarity with national organizations like United We Dream and We Belong Together, LAYC will join the effort to hold our political leaders accountable and ensure comprehensive immigration reform is passed within the next president’s first 100 days in office. This effort should demand for common sense reform to protect individuals and families, and create a pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants who live in fear every day. We want a comprehensive immigration policy that respects the dignity of all families of LAYC youth.
Bright, caring, and ambitious young people like AnaMaria deserve opportunities. Will you stand with AnaMaria and hold our next president accountable? Tweet your voting day selfie to @theLAYC using the hashtags #DACAworks, #KeepFamiliesTogether, or #ImmigrationVoter to show your support.
*LAYC’s DREAMER Committee is a small group of committed staff members who advocate for immigration reform, conduct workshops on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and offer past and present LAYC participants a scholarship fund to offset DACA application, DACA renewal, or other immigration-related costs. AnaMaria is eligible for DACA and is currently receiving a scholarship from our fund for the full cost of the DACA application and related legal fees. See our scholarship application here.
**Name changed for privacy.