By Savie Hughes and Bailey Birkholz
For a majority of her teenage years, a Maize High School student has stood up for illegal immigrants. Being an immigrant herself and having relationships with other illegal immigrants, she said she felt she was the right candidate to take a stand.
Everything changed recently when her parents told her she was a part of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, instead of being a resident as she thought for 14 years.
“I am good at standing up for other people,” she said. Her name is not being used to keep her anonymous. “But then it became me. I got scared, and I am still scared. But finding out about it kind of made me even more passionate. Really there is nothing to be ashamed of. We are Americans, just not on paper. ”
President Donald Trump ordered a congressional review of the DACA program last September. Congress has through March to decide to keep the program, reform it, or declare it unconstitutional. If Congress decides to end the program, 800,000 immigrants, referred to as Dreamers, would be eligible for deportation.
The Maize student said the United States is the only country she ever wants to know. “I’ve only known America, America is my home,” she said. “I’ve grown up in Maize, Kansas, I’ve lived in the same house since I was 3 years old.”
She was brought from another country on her parents’ visa as a child. However, about a year and a half later, the visas expired and could not be renewed.
“My parents made the decision they would rather stay here and face the challenges of being an undocumented citizen than going back to [my home country] and face the oppression,” she said.
She said her parents raised her to believe she was a resident to protect her from ridicule and fear. When she turned 15, the age of eligibility to join DACA, her parents applied without informing her. It wasn’t until two years after she was enrolled in DACA, and a week before Trump announced the program would be reviewed by Congress, that her parents told her.
“So, when I found out, it was kind of like 14 years of fear flooding into me all at once, which is really overwhelming,” she said. “But they did it to protect me from myself, in a way, because they didn’t want me telling anyone.”
She said people still bullied her for being an immigrant in general and that she is fearful about how people within her community will react to the DACA students.
“I hope that they would be one of those communities that wouldn’t turn their backs on me or the other students,” she said. “There are a lot of people who might be against immigrants now and the undocumented, but if they find out who is undocumented, and find out the type of people they are, it might change their minds.”
Within high school she said she worries about how her peers would view her if they knew who she was.
“If other students at Maize High do find out, you don’t know how they will react,” she said. “You don’t know how they will treat you after it. Right now I am trying to not let fear rule how I live my life. I have never done that before so I am not going to start now.”
This story is an edited version of an online article. The entire article may be viewed at MaizeNews.com/11422/news/a-life-in-limbo.