I am undocumented and unafraid.
But it hasn’t always been that way. As a person without documentation, I always lived in heightened fear — fear that at any moment, the police could deport me to a place I never knew. In 2010, my vulnerability multiplied 10 times over due to laws like Arizona’s SB 1070. This anti-immigrant, xenophobic “Show Me Your Papers” law would mark the first of many similar laws sweeping our nation.
I felt abandoned by the only country where I have ever felt at home.
Two years later, I found a new reason to dream again when President Barack Obama established the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program. Since then, DACA has allowed 800,000 Dreamers like me to get work permits and driver’s licenses. It opened doors for a generation of immigrant youth, allowing us to live our lives, go to school, take care of our families and strengthen our communities — without fear of deportation.
My life changed overnight. Becoming “DACAmented” gave me the courage to make my dreams a reality. I was able to enroll at Wichita State University, where I am majoring in political science and Spanish with a focus in future legal studies. Because of DACA, I am an immigration advocate — and have vowed to fight fearlessly and unapologetically for the rights of my community. After graduation, I plan to apply to law school to pursue my dream of becoming an immigration lawyer — and maybe one day, even run for public office.
But with President Donald Trump threatening to end DACA, there is a possibility I could lose everything I’ve worked so hard to achieve. The consequences of this decision would be devastating: shattered lives, weakened communities and destroyed dreams for hundreds of thousands of young people like me. It would send the message that anti-immigrant and xenophobic sentiments are part of our country’s fabric.
But we know that’s not the case: DACA is a tangible reflection of the values we profess as a country — values of family, opportunity, equality, a strong economy and self-reliance — values that Dreamers believe in and fight for every day.
Words of support are not enough. Trump must act to protect Dreamers. He has the power to defend DACA, protect our dreams and stand with the young people and families trying to build better lives and a stronger America.
Or he can stand with the darkest side of America and the forces of evil that seek to pit us against each other and foster a culture of hatred and fear that could destroy our families, hopes and dreams.
Like my fellow Dreamer friends and immigration activists across the country, I refuse to take this sitting down.
We remain DACAmented and unafraid. I hope you’ll stand with us.
Kelvin Lopez of Wichita is a student at Wichita State University.