Why DACA Is So Important

Why DACA Is So Important

"Being an undocumented immigrant in the U.S., hard work does not mean equal success" - Gaby Pacheco

I believe that in order to show how great DACA is, our stories must be shared and heard. This week I had the pleasure to sit down with a fellow Dreamer at Queens College, Dulce Hernandez. Dulce is part of the Dream Team at Queens College:

"Queens College Dream Team is a club that creates awareness concerning the issues affecting undocumented youth. We provide comprehensible support, a safe space for undocumented immigrants to express themselves without judgment and we offer resources to help undocumented students succeed in their education and careers."

Listening to Dulce's story has made me really appreciate the opportunities we have thanks to DACA. In light of the commencement of the SCOTUS hearing regarding Obama's executive decision on DACA/DAPA, Dulce's story firmly stands as an example of what this decision has provided for us. For those who do not know, DACA/DAPA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals/ Deferred Action for Parents of Americans) are programs aimed at protecting immigrants from deportation by providing them with temporary documents. Dulce explained to me how much her family had to endure in order to arrive here. Her family experienced a rough start:

"Both my parents and I crossed the border between the United States and Mexico, and although I made it safely, I was temporarily separated from my mother for a few days. Being her first and only young child, she was traumatized by the experience."

Nevertheless, Dulce's parents persevered and took free English classes while tackling work and childcare. Dulce grew up going to public school and I felt most familiar with her when she said:

"I did not know that being undocumented would affect my life until later on."

After attending school and learning about all the options that were available, a lot of us DACA students were thrown into the college application process and told to make a decision about how we were to pay for school because financial aid was not an option.

"There was a period between my junior and senior years in high school where I felt discouraged to attend school because I did not have my citizenship from the United States, and I was told that I would not be able to receive financial aid without this documentation. I worried about how I would be able to afford college and what were the options to continue my education. If it wasn't for DACA, I would have possibly considered trying to go back to my country and attending some higher institution there, but my parents advised me that the country was currently violent, corrupt, and poor and it would be difficult for me to trust anyone there."

Dulce aspires to be a graphic designer for either a magazine or a book company and to travel to at least one country from each continent. DACA provides the tools needed to make Dulce's, and every Dreamer's, aspirations come true.

"To the currently undocumented youth: you have the capability of changing your lives, changing others, and changing the world. Papers are just papers, and you are worth more. Prove to others you are better than what you seem. And prove to them that your education will better the future."

Many organizations and people have taken to social media to voice their opinions in consideration of the onset of the SCOTUS hearing.

Trumplican? Really?

Starting tomorrow, the Supreme Court will begin to discuss whether Obama's executive decision to expand DACA and to implement DAPA is constitutional. The GOP, along with 26 states, claim the administration overstepped boundaries in making these decisions when, in actuality, other immigration policies have been established to this extent such as George H. W. Bush's Immigration Act of 1990 in which Temporary Protected Status (TPS) was introduced. They do not realize that we are here to stay and that the more we are accepted, the better it is for our economy.

Stand with Dulce these next few months in fighting for the Supreme Court to make its decision in support of DACA/DAPA and let us not forget these words:

Cover Image Credit: https://twitter.com/ri4a/status/688069439674298368

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.


Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Pride? Pride.

Who are we? Why are we proud?


This past week, I was called a faggot by someone close to me and by note, of all ways. The shock rolled through my body like thunder across barren plains and I was stuck paralyzed in place, frozen, unlike the melting ice caps. My chest suddenly felt tight, my hearing became dim, and my mind went blank except for one all-encompassing and constant word. Finally, after having thawed, my rage bubbled forward like divine retribution and I stood poised and ready to curse the name of the offending person. My tongue lashed the air into a frenzy, and I was angry until I let myself break and weep twice. Later, I began to question not sexualities or words used to express (or disparage) them, but my own embodiment of them.

For members of the queer community, there are several unspoken and vital rules that come into play in many situations, mainly for you to not be assaulted or worse (and it's all too often worse). Make sure your movements are measured and fit within the realm of possible heterosexuality. Keep your music low and let no one hear who you listen to. Avoid every shred of anything stereotypically gay or feminine like the plague. Tell the truth without details when you can and tell half-truths with real details if you must. And above all, learn how to clear your search history. At twenty, I remember my days of teaching my puberty-stricken body the lessons I thought no one else was learning. Over time I learned the more subtle and more important lessons of what exactly gay culture is. Now a man with a head and social media accounts full of gay indicators, I find myself wondering both what it all means and more importantly, does it even matter?

To the question of whether it matters, the answer is naturally yes and no (and no, that's not my answer because I'm a Gemini). The month of June has the pleasure of being the time of year when the LGBT+ community embraces the hateful rhetoric and indulges in one of the deadly sins. Pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the figures at the head of the gay liberation movement, fought for something larger than themselves and as with the rest of the LGBT+ community, Pride is more than a parade of muscular white men dancing in their underwear. It's a time of reflection, of mourning, of celebration, of course, and most importantly, of hope. Pride is a time to look back at how far we've come and realize that there is still a far way to go.

This year marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement launched onto the world stage, thus making the learning and embracing of gay culture that much more important. The waves of queer people that come after the AIDS crisis has been given the task of rebuilding and redefining. The AIDS crisis was more than just that. It was Death itself stalking through the community with the help of Regan doing nothing. It was going out with friends and your circle shrinking faster than you can try or even care to replenish. Where do you go after the apocalypse? The LGBT+ community was a world shut off from access by a touch of death and now on the other side, we must weave in as much life as we can.

But we can't freeze and dwell of this forever. It matters because that's where we came from, but it doesn't matter because that's not where we are anymore. We're in a time of rebirth and spring. The LGBT+ community can forge a new identity where the AIDS crisis is not the defining feature, rather a defining feature to be immortalized, mourned, and moved on from.

And to the question of what does it all mean? Well, it means that I'm gay and that I've learned the central lesson that all queer people should learn in middle school. It's called Pride for a reason. We have to shoulder the weight of it all and still hold our head high and we should. Pride is the LGBT+ community turning lemons into lemon squares and limoncello. The lemon squares are funeral cakes meant to mourn and be a familiar reminder of what passed, but the limoncello is the extravagant and intoxicating celebration of what is to come. This year I choose to combine the two and get drunk off funeral cakes. Something tells me that those who came before would've wanted me to celebrate.

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