Immigrant Me: How It Feels When You Say I’ll Be Okay

Last night, the Senate passed a short-term budget extension, failing young immigrants for the third consecutive time within a one month period. Congress and Americans must hold themselves accountable, especially the every day American.

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Up to 86% of Americans support Dreamers. But how many are calling and writing to Congress? So much of organizing work, on campuses and on the state level, is done by directly impacted people. United We Dream (UWD), for example, is regularly canvasing the halls of Congress, and their volunteer base is majority undocumented and DACA-mented youth.
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When people say “you’ll be okay, just wait until the next President,” know you are not comforting anyone. I need more from you. I need your support with everything you’ve got.
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Don’t say things will be okay; show me what you’re doing to make things okay for immigrants.
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Mural on Upshur St, Washington DC

This means naming the Congress members that represent you.

 This means regular phone calls to Congress, and regular mail and email–demanding Congress to represent you. This means positives comments on the social media of spaces like NAKASEC, UWD, FWD.us, (CAP) Center for the American Progress. This means donating to the cause or showing up at actions.
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And if you can’t get behind that? Stay informed and inform those around you. A great resource for updates is Informed Immigrant, which also includes a list of state organizations doing the important work of protecting immigrants.
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For about a decade, I grew up in the U.S. without knowing that one day it could kick me out. I didn’t call myself immigrant. I called myself Claudia. I called myself girl. I called myself daughter. I called myself dreamer. You’d think I would figure things out after regular visits to take biometrics, but that was another “adult thing to do.”
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At 17 years old, it dawned on me that Temporary Protected Status (TPS) had a say in my goals. TPS meant that I, along with 200,000 El Salvadorans, were vulnerable. For years afterwards, I felt guilt whenever TPS was renewed for El Salvador. It meant El Salvador was determined unsafe, but it also meant I could stay in the U.S. for another 18 months.
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I owe my 17 years of living in the U.S. to the instability in my country of birth. Its high femicide rates, gang violence, and crumbling economy. Some say the country’s state is due to a U.S. funded civil war, so maybe, I owe those 17 years to America.
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When DACA came into the picture in 2012, I wondered if that was the program for me: young, college-bound, model citizen. I wondered if DACA could make me less “temporary.” DACA work permits last two years. DACA was an essential program for 800,000 Dreamers, that is until President Trump ended it last year.
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Now TPS is under attack and still, no pathway to permanent residency or citizenship is in sight. I am so, so tired of living out my life temporarily; my community has done it for nearly two decades. I have 18 months in the U.S., and that’s either enough time to pack and stomach the ache in my heart, or enough time for people and Congress to react.

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Claudia Rojas is poeta. She’s also a TPS (Temporary Protected Status) holder. TPS protects individuals fleeing natural disaster and war on a temporary basis. The program has been extended for many years; no permanent solution has ever been presented. Currently, the countries of Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, and El Salvador have lost TPS and lives are at risk should Congress or America fail us. Call your member of Congress today through the FWD.us tool or find your representative’s info online. 

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