My name is Gerardo. I am a proud undocumented immigrant and a grassroots leader at Colorado People’s Action (COPA), where we fight for racial justice in our state and nationwide.
I want you to know my story.
I am one of the recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that protects hundreds of thousands of people from deportation who, like me, who arrived in this country as children.
Growing up, I knew I shouldn’t tell other people about my immigration status. I thought it was shameful to be undocumented, but I didn’t quite understand why.
That changed when I turned 19.
I was pulled over one day because my license plate light was burnt out. When the officer saw that I’m Latino, he racially profiled me and questioned my right to be in this country. When he discovered that I didn’t have identification on me, he took me to jail.
I thought it would end there. But the officer decided to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), who took me to an immigration office nearby. That was where they began processing a deportation order, before throwing me into a detention center.
This Is My Home
I moved to Colorado when I was nine. All of my friends and family live here. This is my home. It’s the place where I have my hopes and dreams. Being deported to Mexico would mean I’d have nowhere to go.
I was relieved when ICE decided I was not a high priority for deportation, and closed my case. I was lucky.
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When President Obama introduced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, I was saved. DACA protected me from being violently incarcerated and deported.
Thanks to DACA, as a young person I was able to build a life and contribute to this country: I could get a job, build a career, obtain health care insurance, and create a network of friends and loved ones.
But now, President Trump and the GOP are threatening to eliminate DACA.
Our Lives Are On the Line
There are 800,000 DACA recipients who have stories like mine. Our lives and our dreams are on the line.
If DACA is eliminated, people will have to go into hiding, lose their jobs, give up their health care and live in fear. And this country will lose hundreds of thousands of hardworking taxpayers like me.
No one deserves that kind of life. America is for all of us.
In order to build a country that affords justice to all communities, we have to protect immigrant families who will be torn apart by a repeal of DACA. We have to ensure young immigrants like me believe they have a future, and can continue to contribute to this country.
Because of deportation risks, Gerardo has asked us to refer to him only by his first name.