SAN ANTONIO – Just over a year after she represented Dreamers like herself as Congressman Joaquin Castro’s guest for the State of the Union, Maria Rocha Carrillo was in the room where Congress considered the new American Dream and Opportunity Act.
Now that it has passed the U.S. House, the Senate is expected to vote soon on the latest version of the Dream Act, that would provide an eight-year path to permanent residency or citizenship, with certain conditions, to nearly 700,000 DACA recipients.
Carrillo said it has been nearly a decade after she was among the first to gain DACA status in 2012, allowing her to work in the U.S., and temporarily protecting her from being deported.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals has been for children who were brought illegally into the U.S. by their parents.
Carrillo said she’s been living here more than 30 years, earned two UTSA degrees, and has been teaching six years at Mark Twain Dual Language Academy.
Although polling has shown the majority of Americans support Dreamers like Carrillo, DACA has been likened to political football that’s been tossed back and forth ever since President Obama signed the executive order creating the program.
“Human lives are being played with that were going through emotional and mental trauma,” Carrillo said. “This is not the country that we strive to be.”
Carrillo said that while she listened to the State of the Union in 2020, her thoughts were those who would be affected by the decisions made there.
“My family, my friends, the sacrifices that we’ve had to endure, the closed doors that we’ve had to approach, where we’ve opened them ourselves, or find other pathways,” Carrillo said.
Carrillo said she wants bipartisan support for the new legislation, although the emergency on the Southwest border may serve as a “red flag” to opponents.
But unlike asylum seekers arriving at the border, she said, “This is our home and we’re not escaping anything because this is our home.”