Someone Like Me.
By Julissa Arce
An estimated 800,000 young people who were brought to the United States as children applied for a government program called DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) since it was established in 2012. DACA made it possible for young people to work legally and allowed them to stay in America despite not being U.S. citizens or having valid visas. Like me, they came to the United States through no choice of their own.
Some of them made the journey with their parents when they were babies, and others came to be reunited with their parents as young children. Like me, they grew up in America, went to school, and felt American in every way. They are known as Dreamers.
After many years of living in Mexico without my parents, I came to live with them in Texas. While I had no say in coming to America, I thank my parents for bringing me here so that I could have a better life.
My story has a happy ending. I am now a United States Citizen. I do not have to worry about being separated from my family. Sadly, the 800,000 Dreamers who applied for the DACA program do not know how their story will end. In September 2017, the DACA program was terminated and suddenly their future became very uncertain. Without DACA, Dreamers cannot work, drive, and in some cases, go to school. Most importantly, Dreamers are at risk of being deported and separated from their families.
I originally wrote my story as an adult memoir called My (Underground) American Dream to shed light on the plight of undocumented people and to put a human face on the issue of immigration—a topic that tends to be very controversial. I also wanted to share my story with young readers because my own journey in America began when I was only 11 years old. Perhaps some of your classmates or their parents are Dreamers too. Someone Like Me is a story about strength and never giving up on your dreams even when the odds are stacked against you. It is about believing in yourself and deeply knowing that you are enough and that you belong.
Dreamers have not given up. They have fought for their right to live and thrive in the United States by marching to the nation’s capital, organizing phone calls to Congress, and by sharing their amazing and unique stories with the American people. This book is dedicated to them.
My hope is that by reading Someone Like Me, you will be empowered to pursue your dreams and that you will know that no matter how difficult things might be, there is always a way. Keep pushing forward and never give up on you.
Author Julissa Arce is a CNBC and Crooked media contributor, writer, speaker, and social justice advocate. She is the cofounder and chairman of the Ascend Educational Fund, a college scholarship and mentorship program that assists immigrant students, regardless of their immigration status, ethnicity, or national origin. Julissa is also a board member for the National Immigration Law Center and for College Spring. Prior to becoming an advocate, she built a successful career on Wall Street working at Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch. Visit her at www.julissarce.com and on Twitter at @julissaarce.
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