Here to Stay

DACA-Stories-By-CCNY-Journalism-Students

by Alfha Gonzalez

Carleny Valentin suffers from the fear that fills her heart when she opens her eyes every morning. President Trump ordered an end to DACA, a program that protected 800,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation. The future of these young Dreamers  is uncertain. While the sun rises and sets, every Dreamer experiences fear and dismay.

Former President Barack Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2012. The program protected illegal immigrants who came into the United States as minors. The program provided them two years of deferred action from deportation and allowed them to get a Social Security number and a work permit. Many families saw this as an opportunity to achieve the American Dream.

All immigrants protected by DACA have a story.

Carleny came to the United States at nine from the Dominican Republic with her father and siblings. She left behind an alcoholic mother who used heroin and beat her. She was often harassed at school for being different, for speaking broken English and for being dark-skinned. She remembers the word “abuse” as the one word that brings back her childhood.

Her father, who came into this country legally, never tried to help her fix her legal status. Her four siblings are all citizens.

Carleny left home at fifteen without finishing high school. She took refuge in alcoholism, drifted away from her family and started working. Ten years later, after going through rehabilitation and committed to change, Carleny has been sober for five years. She also found love.

She married Dereck Somwar, an American citizen.  She gave birth to fraternal twins on July 26th, a boy and a girl. Carleny had worked illegally. But DACA provided her with a sense of security and her fear was gone. Her marriage allowed her to apply for citizenship on September 14th. She will become the woman she always wanted to be without the constant panic nagging at her.

If she had the opportunity to talk to the president, she would say, “It isn’t late for someone who wants to change. I’ve worked day and night, as hard as necessary to stay afloat in this country. Regardless of my past I have always tried to give people the happiness I never received. I am looking forward to a better future, where I am here to stay with my family, who I love and cherish very much, sincerely. Thanks to love I am where I am today. But I fear that the future of those who, like me, were protected by DACA might be in danger. That the lives of 800,000 that know no other home might be torn apart”.

She asks President Trump to have mercy,  to think about the families that this decision might separate and to put himself in the position of those his decision puts at risk.

 

 

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