An issue becomes more than an issue when you know someone who is affected by said issue. I started learning about the injustices in our immigration system and the trials that many immigrants face in the United States, especially those who are undocumented. This is the story of my friend, Ana.
In 2000, Ana’s father came to the United States on a worker’s visa. When two tragic earthquakes struck El Salvador early in 2001, her father (and many other Salvadorans in the United States) was able to apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), enabling them to send remittances back to family members still in the devastated country. Before long, the rest of the family moved to the United States on tourist visas. Ana was 12 when she left El Salvador to move to the United States. She, her mother, and sister were never able to apply for another type of visa, so their current visas expired and the three of them live as undocumented immigrants in the United States.
Ana is a DREAMer.
A DREAMer is someone who was brought to the United States before the age of 16. There are an estimate 2.1 million DREAMers in the country.
Ana graduated from high school, earned her Associates degree and is now studying for her Bachelor's degree at a state university. Even though the school is a state university, she has to pay out-of-state tuition. She does not receive any government assistance for school. She is getting a BA in Mathematics and wants to be a high school science teacher. Ana calls the United States her home now. It is where all of her friends and family are. She wants to contribute to American society by teaching students math. There is such a push for more math and science education, yet the House of Representatives voted to deport these DREAMers.
Before Obama implemented Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), she contemplated "self-deporting" back to El Salvador because there would never be an opportunity for her to work legally doing what she loves to do: teach. Thanks to DACA, Ana has received an Employment Authorization Card, driver’s license, and Social Security number. However, these documents are only valid for two years. DACA is a temporary fix to a very real issue that affects millions of people in the country.
In the Senate immigration bill, S.744, DREAMers would be eligible to apply for citizenship, eventually, if they
- arrived in the United States before he or she turned 16,
- have been in Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status for at least five years,
- have earned a high-school diploma or GED,
- have completed at least two years of college or four years of military service, and
- have passed an English test and background checks, among other requirements.
Ana and I have enjoyed a lot of good times together — going out to eat authentic Salvadoran food, attending Latin music concerts. She should not be denied the same rights I am.
As Christians, we believe our primary citizenship is in heaven. Our allegiance should be to God over country. Ana is an equal, beloved child of God, created in God’s image to be in relationship with God. Will you allow your government to treat her as if she was less than that?