COMMENTARY: On Nov. 30 my fellow DREAMers were in front of Senator Heinrich and Senator Udall’s office — calling on them to publicly reject President Trump’s Department of Homeland Security budget to protect our families, lands and values, and to pass a clean DREAM Act.
But that’s not all we’ve done. Earlier in the month, I and fellow DREAMers went to the offices of Sens. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and Tom Udall, D-N.M., in Washington, D.C. and urged them to protect undocumented families by rejecting President Trump’s budget for DHS. His budget would expand funding for Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), border enforcement and detention beds.
As someone who has lived in the shadows for far too long, I need my senators to clearly stand with me and my family. This means I need more from them than opposition to a border wall. I need them to oppose funding for more Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, and funding to increase the number of immigration detention beds.
Separating families is wrong, and I know my family – and many others – deserve every opportunity to thrive in the place we now call home. We can’t do this if President Trump expands his deportation machine.
For me, this fight is personal. Seeking a better life, my mother brought me and my older brother to the United States when I was 2 years old, and we have lived here ever since. She was born without ears and endured many hardships before coming to America, but managed to raise us by herself.
My mother is the reason I stay in college. I’m set to graduate in May. Most people ready to graduate would be looking to find a job or applying to go to a four-year university – but I can’t, because unlike my peers, I’m a DREAMer, and my DACA is going to expire in April, a month before I’m set to receive my degree.
My mother is also the reason I am fighting against additional funding for ICE and Border Patrol, and more detention beds. Increasing the number of Border Patrol agents will only put more fear in our lives. More beds in detention centers will make more money for private prisons, but it will also be the home for many undocumented immigrants – like me and my family. Those beds are encouraging ICE to deport more people like me.
I am also supporting a “clean” Dream Act — a law that would protect thousands of young immigrants without adding funding for a border wall or increased immigration enforcement.
Every day I fear for my life when I see Border Patrol posted everywhere I go — on the way to school, to the park, downtown. Even when I’m in class, I can barely concentrate for thinking that I’m the one they’re looking for, that I’m some kind of runaway criminal because of them.
People like me and my family deserve to live calmly and not have to be afraid of having their families be torn apart by ICE or Border Patrol.
Instead of investing money in more detention centers and more beds for immigrant families, we should get back to being the kind of country my mother came to – where neighbors welcomed her as a newcomer and her disability didn’t keep her from working hard, making a contribution, and raising two kids who hope to finish college.
Every person has the right to live freely, in community and with family, without fear of being separated as soon as they leave their front door.
Brandon is a 20-year-old DREAMer and DACA recipient who lives in New Mexico, surrounded by checkpoints. He’s earning his associate’s degree in architecture from Doña Ana Community College.