Testimonials from current and former HISD students
As a DACA recipient, I received many benefits. I was able to get a state id. I was able to obtain a work permit. I was able to help my family by having the opportunity to work. It allowed me to help provide a small source of income in my family. This is what DACA offered me. Although the program has been rescinded, I have hope that legislature will be approved in order to restore the benefits I enjoyed. This is the story for almost 1 million people in the U.S. and these are the struggles we have to overcome. And I truly have hope that we aren't forgotten.
— Current Eastwood High School student
In the summer of 2002 my mother and I emigrated to the United States from Mexico with empty pockets and full of dreams. I was 7 years old and about to enter 3rd grade. My mother believed that if I attended school in the U.S. and learned to speak English my future would be brighter, no matter which side of the border I was on. After finishing 5th grade at Condit Elementary School in Houston, Texas and moving to Pin Oak Middle school it was obvious that learning English was an attainable goal for both my mother and I. It was when I started 9th grade at Challenge Early College High School that the prospect of a real full education was attainable more than ever and it was clear that we couldn't leave now because even though I learned English I wasn't ready to give up on my dream of completing my education to show my mother that her sacrifices made all the difference in the world to our life. I graduated high school, thanks to my early college high school's dual credit classes, with 2 year’s worth of college credits. At the age of 17 I entered the University of Houston as a Junior in college and in 2015 I completed my Bachelor of Business in Accounting. After being in the United States for 15 years, it no longer feels like an unattainable dream, it feels like home.
— Former Challenge Early College High School student
“Must be a U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident.”
This phrase has been ingrained in the back of my mind for the past 19 years of my life.
As a DACA student, I felt like I had to be perfect, in everything, just to prove that I belonged with the rest of my peers. I had straight A’s across the board, an endless amount of volunteer hours, and experience in the professional world before I was even 18.
With my background, I didn’t think applying to colleges or outside opportunities would be as hard as it was. I was wrong.
It was hard finding a college that was able and willing to support DACA students like me. Even when I did, it was hard to pursue the opportunities available there. Every time I began filling out an internship application, I came across the words: “Must be a U.S. Citizen….”.
It was discouraging, not just because it meant I couldn’t pursue opportunities of interest but because it made me feel like a foreigner, despite spending my entire life in the U.S.
Growing up, I carried this weight on my shoulder of not knowing what it was like to go on a normal family vacation because of my family’s legal status. I lived in constant worry about what was going to happen to them, what was going to happen to me.
I’ve hit many roadblocks to get to where I am. With the decision to rescind DACA, I know that I will hit more. I think for now, the only thing I can do is continue to work hard and hope that everything turns out okay in the end. If not for me, then for my family and the thousands of other DACA students who have had to struggle with their identity.
— Former East Early College High School student
Stakes are higher for me. There is no safety net I can rely on if school doesn't work out, it has to work out. There is no wealthy family member who'll get me a job at their company after I graduate. There is no back up, there are no options, there is no choice. I have to succeed- I am both my own future and the future of my parents, I carry It all with me, and sometimes it's a lot to bear. DACA was a sliver of hope, the possibility of things panning out, but even that isn't guaranteed. The most difficult part about it is that I am American. This is my country, this is my home, this is all I know. And yet, everywhere I turn I'm reminded I'm not like my friends, that I don't fully belong, that I am not wanted here- in my own home. And there isn’t anything I can do about it.
I get asked questions I can't answer "where are you studying abroad?" (I'm not), "why?" (I can't), "why?". "How many countries have you been to?" (I've never left the country). "Who did you vote for?" (I didn't). "What are you going to do after graduation?" (You mean if I'm not deported?).
I work hard, I care for my community, I have a job, I volunteer, I am vocal in the face of injustice, I'm a leader, I received a merit-based scholarship and got into my top choice school, I do everything I can. But there is nothing that I can do to make myself more American than I already am. I can do everything, but can I convince you that I deserve to be here? Sometimes I have to work hard to convince myself.
— Former Lamar High School student
As a current minority student under DACA, I not only face the lack of opportunities and oppression that comes from not being white nor a citizen, I also face the constant reminder that everything that I am working towards, my degree, my job, my personal life, can be taken away overnight. The hardest challenge I face is continuing to devote myself entirely to an uncertain future. Yet, I acknowledge that while I have an opportunity I must take a chance and continue the fight for political and individual freedom.
As a global citizen working, studying, and contributing towards a more sustainable future were individuals could coexist despite their differences, I should not have to worry about my legal status on top of everything else. More importantly, for everyone else, those who didn’t have the same education opportunities and have worked day in and day out to provide for themselves and their families, the fear of being separated from their loved ones, the fear of being persecuted for their status, and the reality of living in fear should not exist. Yet, it is challenging to accept the fact that man-drawn boundaries define our opportunities and the system of competitive economy govern the way we live our individual lives while maintaining interaction with others.
Finally, as a twenty-year-old male, I find it challenging to focus on school while dealing with the aftermath of oppressive politics. I sometimes fear for my safety and for the wellbeing of my family. I am uncertain of my future in this country, and I am reminded that I do not belong anywhere since I am not welcomed here and I do not belong back in “my” country. If I am forced back into the shadows, you will never know what I can contribute to society and we will never see a future were we can coexist. I urge that when you question the challenges that a DACA student faces, you take into consideration all the social-political factors that weight in when the entire future of many talented Indi duals rest in a single piece of paper.
— Former Sam Houston High School student
I’m a former student that attended wisdom High school. I was brought to this country at the age of 7. I realized that I was illegal at the of 9 when my cousins would go on trips outside the U.S and I couldn’t because I wasn’t born in the U.S. At the age of 15 I applied for DACA and got approved and that changed the way I pictured my future. I was granted the opportunity to continue with school and that’s what I’m doing at the moment. I’m trying to major in nursing I decided to proceed a nursing career when I was diagnosed with Chrons Disease in 2016. It was really sick and the nurses would cheer me up and ever since then I want to help others. On September, the 5th Donald Trump decided to end the DACA program. I’m not going to lie I did feel sad about the decision he took because with DACA I was able to go to College and to get my driver’s license and if Congress doesn’t find a solution my dream of becoming a nurse would be toured apart. All I sacrificed would just be a waste of time. I hope the congress can come up with a decision that’s going to benefit all the ones that are in the Program. We are all dreamers and most of us are doing great things like working paying taxes and going to school for a better future.
— Former Wisdom High School student