ICYMI: Michelle Villegas Tapia: “DACA allowed me to pursue my dreams. We must continue to fight for its survival”

In case you missed it, the Chicago Tribune recently published an op-ed written by Michelle Villegas Tapia, Latino Coalition Director at the DNC, where she recounts her experience as a DACA recipient and discusses the importance of protecting the program from attacks from the Republican Party as well as the fight to create a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.

Chicago Tribune: Michelle Villegas Tapia: DACA allowed me to pursue my dreams. We must continue to fight for its survival.

  • I was a Dreamer for many years, and this week marks the 11th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. I want to honor all of the young people like me who were given the opportunity to pursue their dreams thanks to this program and assure you that Democrats will continue to fight for you, for us, so that we can continue dreaming.
  • When I was 2 years old, my parents left their home in Guadalajara, Mexico, in pursuit of work and a brighter future for our little family in America. We moved to Chicago in November 1995. It was a brutal winter with unprecedented amounts of snow, but each day, we would walk to catch the early morning bus, with me bundled up inside my dad’s coat, so my parents could make it to work and save enough money to buy a car.
  • The United States was good to us. I learned English, my dad got a good union job with the Teamsters and my mom started a small business. Chicago became home, and so we stayed and looked toward the future.
  • For a long time, it didn’t occur to me that being undocumented made me different. It really wasn’t until high school, when I wasn’t eligible to get a driver’s license at 16, that I started to understand what it meant.
  • But in the summer of 2012, my life changed when President Barack Obama announced the DACA program. I felt as if I was being seen for the first time. It felt powerful that the president of the United States had seen us — and given us hope and permission to pursue our dreams. Not only was I able to attend college, but I also got a job as a student coordinator at my university’s center for service and justice and organized for many causes, including immigration reform. Being able to work and have a voice, especially in politics, felt imperative to making a real change for my family and so many others who were still living in the shadows.
  • As DACA faces continuous attacks from Republicans, I feel an immense duty to continue helping make real change for communities like ours
  • Democrats are fighting for that change and I am proud of the Biden administration’s commitment to preserving and strengthening DACA. Together, we will continue to fight for vital protections and a path to citizenship for DACA recipients. President Joe Biden recognizes that the contributions of Dreamers to our country are undeniable and invaluable.
  • Thanks to DACA, I was given a priceless opportunity to make a life in this great country, the only place I have ever called home.

Read the full article here.