Powerful Essay by Trinity Dreamer Scholar Bruna Distinto on Important Supreme Court Case is Published by Teen Vogue
Bruna Distinto is a Dreamer Scholar at Trinity, with a scholarship from TheDream.US. She and her family are from Bolivia and she grew up in the U.S. since she was six years old. She transferred to Trinity from Montgomery College, plays on the Trinity soccer team, and wants “to be the best, most productive American I can be.” In her thoughtful and inspiring essay, published by Teen Vogue in January 2016, she writes: “There are few words that can fully describe the joy, relief, and appreciation I feel for the executive actions taken by President Obama on immigration. What he’s done for me and millions of other immigrants in the United States has literally changed our lives for the better. Without DACA, I would not be able to go to school or help my family.” Read her essay and be inspired!
I Used to Be an Undocumented Teen Immigrant Until This New Action Changed My Life.
And How a New Supreme Court Case Could Make Me Illegal Again.
by Bruna Distinto
First published by Teen Vogue, January 20, 2016
In 2001, I moved to the United States with my parents and younger sisters from Bolivia. I was 6 years old and hardly spoke a word of English. Today, America is my home. I’m a sophomore at Trinity Washington University and intern for the Latin American News Digest. The U.S. is where I have grown up, it’s where my best friends live, it’s where I go to the movies and shop at malls. This is my country now, and it’s where I want to study, work, and build a future. However, until two years ago, I lived every day of my life in fear that I, or one of my family members, would be deported. You see, I’m an undocumented immigrant and until President Obama enacted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012 — which grants temporary legal status to people who entered the U.S. as children and meet several guidelines — my reality was very different.
Like most immigrants, my parents moved here to start a new and better life. One where they could work to support our family and eventually send my sisters and I to college, something that wasn’t possible for them in their native countries. As I grew up, I began to realize that achieving my American dream would not be as easy as I thought. I used to believe that getting all A’s in school was what it took to become successful, but quickly realized that there are many more things involved, which were completely out of my hands. The differences between me and my friends became clear to me in high school. While they were turning 16 and excited to get their driver’s licenses, I found out I could not get one; my undocumented status prevented it. I also could not open a bank account or work legally as I couldn’t obtain a social security number. And even though educating me and my siblings was one of the main motivations for my parents’ risky move to the States, without being a citizen, my options for higher education were basically slim to none. Worst of all, I began to understand and feel the fear that my parents have felt every single day since we moved here: the fear of being deported back to the country I was born in, but which was now a foreign land to me.
Then, in 2012 our president did something that changed my life and that of millions of other young immigrants in this country. Through an executive order, he created DACA, which provided immediate, though temporary, relief from deportation. DACA also grants those who qualify (and pass rigorous background checks) a work permit, a social security number, and the right to obtain a driver’s license. But more than just documents, it allowed me the chance to continue to move forward with my life and alleviated my constant fear of being deported. To say it has completely changed my life is an understatement. I now have a temporary but legal status in this country where I can do more than just identify as an American by heart, I can now be one on paper too.
In 2014, the president expanded DACA to cover more young people and created another initiative called Deferred Action for Parents of American Citizens & Lawful Permanent Residents, to protect parents of U.S. citizens and green card holders. However, Texas and 25 other states have challenged these initiatives and five million other undocumented immigrants who could have been protected, like me, are now waiting for the courts to decide their fates.
The case has reached all the way to the Supreme Court, which yesterday decided to hear arguments in April, and issue a decision by the end of June. While I am very happy the highest court is stepping in to help decide this case once and for all, the fact that this legal battle has gone on so long and delayed so many people’s lives creates a sense of fear and uncertainty in me. While I do believe in our justice system, it worries me: What if we lose? Also, why don’t the 26 states suing to stop these programs want to help the immigrants like me who live and work in their states?
There are few words that can fully describe the joy, relief, and appreciation I feel for the executive actions taken by President Obama on immigration. What he’s done for me and millions of other immigrants in the United States has literally changed our lives for the better. Without DACA, I would not be able to go to school or help my family. I want to be the best, most productive American I can be, and most immigrants want the same thing. Immigrants are hard working people that only want the right to live, work, and provide for their families. America has always been a nation of immigrants and all I want is to do my part and share my talents with my new homeland. The Supreme Court’s decision will determine whether millions of immigrants just like me will be able to live without constant fear. The future of millions of people in this country rests in their hands.
- February 15, 2016, is the deadline for TheDream.US Scholarship. Read more.