I Spoke To A Group Of DACA Recipients, Here's What They Said

I Spoke With A Group Of DACA Recipients And Their Stories Moved Me To Tears

An experience that forever changed my perspective on "illegal" immigrants.

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I thought I was just filming about a club meeting for a project, but when I entered the art-filled room located in a corner of the student common area, I knew this experience would be much more than a grade for a class.

I was welcomed in by a handful of people wearing various Arizona State hoodies and T-shirts that were all around my age. They were college students, like myself, but something felt different when talking to them. They were comforting, shy at first, and more driven than the peers that I usually meet.

As I began to look around the room, I noticed a good amount of art, murals, religious pieces, and a poster that read, "WE STAND WITH DREAMERS." The club was meant for students at ASU that are either undocumented or DACA recipients.

Photo by Amanda Marvin

As a U.S. citizen college student, you typically tend to think about your GPA, money, and dating. As a DACA recipient college student, there are many more issues crowding your brain. When I sat down at a club meeting for students my age dealing with entirely different problems as me, my eyes were opened to bigger issues.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program allows for individuals that crossed the border as children to be protected from deportation and to go to school or work. Commonly known as DREAMers, these individuals are some of the most hard-working, goal-oriented and focused people I have met, and that's solely because they have to be.

In order to apply to be a DACA recipient, it is required that the applicant is attending school with a high school diploma, or a military veteran, as well as have a clean criminal record. While being a DACA recipient does not mean that you can become a permanent citizen of the United States, it allows for opportunities that may not be offered in their home country.

It's no secret that the United States has dealt with immigration in a number of ways. From forming new policies to building a wall on our nation's border, we see efforts to keep immigrants from entering the U.S. every day. But what about the people who are affected?

As the club members and I began a painting activity regarding where we came from and how we got to where we are today, I began to feel the urge to cry.

Photo by Amanda Marvin

One girl described the small Mexican town that she grew up in and the family that still resides there. She went on to talk about how important education is to her family and so much so that it was the cause of her family's move to the United States when she was still a child. Her voice wavered when she talked about the changing immigration policies that prevent her from seeing her family in Mexico.

Another member of the club, a boy with goals of becoming a journalist, talked of his depression and obstacles regarding growing up as an undocumented student. Once he was told by his father that he was illegal, he began to set himself apart from his peers and became someone he did not think he would ever be.

All of my worries seemed small in comparison to theirs, and I felt a pang of regret for realizing I take my own citizenship for granted every single day.

Terminating the policy would lead to the displacement of about 800,000 people. We tend to forget about the human aspect of all of this change, but it's the most important part.

For more information about this club, visit https://www.facebook.com/USEEASU/

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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.

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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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Introducing Miah Johnson

"It made me learn to love and live in every moment as if it were the last." -Miah Johnson

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It was Daddy Donut day at Teasley Elementary School, but for Miah Johnson, it was just another day in which she had to pretend everything was okay. It had been a month since Miah's dad was deported and left her hopeless.

As Johnson took her last sip of coffee she laughs. She shares how hard it was for her to talk about her father. Many people do not know about the days she spent crying because she needed him, or how she was not sure if they would ever move past the hard times. How she went days without being able to eat a proper meal because they did not have enough money to make ends meet. Ashamed and embarrassed she shares her memories of going to church early in the morning for bread, canned soup, and powdered milk. She explains that there are times when she gets excited to share something with her father but strange darkness takes over and she loses hope that one day a real relationship with him will exist.

Johnson was born in Fort Lauderdale Florida in 1999. She is the only child of her small sheltered loving family. Her childhood was a fairy tale, her best friend was her stepfather, "I wasn't his biological daughter, but he raised me as one and I will always be grateful for the memories." Johnson's eyes flood with tears as she reminiscences on her past. School work was the best way she coped with her loss. She always made herself busy, if she didn't have any homework she would read, pick up a new hobby or dance. Going to bed was the hardest part of her day. All of the thoughts and feelings she fought so hard to keep away came pouring out in a way she does not know how to describe. Not having her father broke her in many ways, but the one she speaks about most often is not having a financially and emotionally stable home.

Johnson attended Elon University on a full ride her freshman year but decided to transfer to a school closer to home. Johnson was not ready to leave she admitted quietly. She describes that there was a shift in her during her first semester there, for the first time she failed classes, gained 20 pounds and lost her scholarship. Her failure comes from a lack of stability and support. The friendships she made there weren't enough to keep her there, she could no longer afford the prestigious college. Now she takes classes online at Kennesaw State University. She has to work two jobs in order to make ends meet for her and her family. Johnson laughs at the situation and explains how her father used to lecture her on how education is the best way out of their situation. Now she feels like she has disappointed him and that she has to make up for the broken promise.

There is never enough money. Johnson has made plans to visit her father multiple times but has never been able to visit him. There is always something that comes up. Her mother's car broken down the first time, they couldn't afford to pay the bills the other time, and the last time she needed a car of her own to help get to and from work. She shows a screenshot of her bank account. Negative eight dollars. She sighs and states that life has a funny way of getting in the way of the important things.

Johnson believes that if her father was still here, it would be different. She would have never known what it was like to go hungry, feel so hopeless, and do not have a stable home.

She explains that it was an experience she doesn't share because it is painful to talk about but, "It made me learn to love and live in every moment as if it were the last."

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