‘Dreamers’ Face ‘Challenging’ Fight


Luis Reyes

Manny and his team of organizers.

The Donald Trump administration ended DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) on Sept. 5. This has left roughly 800,000 undocumented children and migrants in a state of limbo. Not knowing what is to come next for families and friends, Manny Vasquez, a 21-year-old Oakland Community Organizer, helps many “Dreamers” come to terms and prepare for the future.

“I’m fortunate in that I was born in the United States, but I see the effects of this decision every day,” Vasquez said. “The majority of my focus takes place in working with students of the Oakland community. There are students who’ve disclosed the fear they feel everyday in light of this political decision. For plenty of these students the day-to-day is challenging enough as it is.”

The Oakland neighborhoods that students grow up in are influenced by drug and gang violence. Despite the fact that these Oakland students live in fear every day, they continue to go to school to help their families have a better future.  

DACA is a federal program that started in June 15, 2012 by former President Barack Obama that protects 800,000 children who traveled to the United States illegally. Those who were brought from another country at a young age are protected from deportation by this executive order. DACA gave the migrants a temporary home to study and work for two years at a time, after being vetted for a criminal history. Those under protection have a chance to gain an education and a work permit. Those who are currently a part of DACA are known as “dreamers,” these are the young students and workers in society. DACA will begin to expire in March 2018 until the final day where “dreamers” lose their status in March 2020. Unless a new program is brought up in between those years, there will be 800,000 “dreamers” in fear.

“Dreamers are the young men and women who I’ve grown up with my entire life,” Vasquez said. “They are some of the students I work with, they are my peers and my friends, they are people who have risked everything for the chance at a better life.”

Vasquez stressed that although these students came to the United States under different circumstances, it does not make them any less American. Most students have built their entire lives in the United States, but with a sudden change their futures are gone. Currently, “dreamers” can no longer renew their applications for DACA. The last deadline was Oct. 5. Those who are in school and have work permits have until March 2018, when their status begin to expire.

Luis Reyes
Manny Vasquez a Oakland Community Organizer helping ‘dreamers’ everyday.

“Many of the DACA Latino students here in Oakland identify as American in every way but a piece of paper,” Vasquez said. “Yet even in the face of the overwhelming adversity of policy makers and politicians telling them [they] don’t belong, they dare still to dream.”

With this drastic change that the Trump administration made, dreamers that have started lives in the United States can potentially be deported to a country they do not know or remember.

Vasquez works towards empowering dreamers to become engaged with their communities. Shaping students into leaders for a better tomorrow both in education and in the real world. He helps organize school leaders together to create workshops for students and parents, providing information on how to deal with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and renewing  DACA applications. The workshops also provide financial information and assistance for those in need. However, Vasquez can only do so much for dreamers, the people who can help these students are those in power.

In the end, Vasquez fears for his students, friends and family because of the decision made by the Trump administration to dismantle DACA.

“Many will have to have to go about their daily lives with the fear of deportation trailing behind them. I imagine there will be a number who will suffer at the hands of this political decision and will be deported,” Vasquez said. “That’s the truly scary part, the uncertainty of what’s to come. We can only continue to champion for our immigrant families and do our best to support them in the trying times.”