Social Justice

Change Makers: The DREAMers Who Continue to Stand by the American Dream

Last week, the Trump Administration announced the end of the DACA program that protects DREAMers from deportation. Nevadans across the state reacted with sorrow and outrage. While many DREAMers themselves reacted similarly, we spoke with a few activists who expressed another feeling: determination. They shared with us why they’re determined to continue fighting for the American Dream, regardless of Donald Trump’s threats.

“I will not let this fear stop me any more. I will continue to fight.”
– Sergio Hernandez
Photo by Andrew Davey

Hours after Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the DACA announcement for Trump, Mi Familia Vota’s Sergio Hernandez came out as a DREAMer. He explained to us why he’s now in this predicament. “I came to the U.S. when I was three years old. I never had a choice. In high school, I learned how hard it is to be undocumented.”

When DACA became available, Hernandez could sense doors opening in his life, doors that had previously been slammed in his face. “I felt like things were changing, I had opportunities in life.” But when Hernandez learned of Trump’s decision to end DACA, “I felt like our world came crashing down.”

And yet, Hernandez has vowed to continue fighting for his fellow DREAMers. Why? “We deserve to be here just as much as anyone else does.”

“We knew that DACA was not a permanent solution. We have to continue fighting.”
– Erika Castro, PLAN
Photo by Andrew Davey

Earlier this month, we checked in again with PLAN organizer and progressive super-activist Erika Castro. Even though Trump hadn’t yet announced his DACA decision at the time, the suspense was already taking a toll on her. “It’s definitely been an emotional roller-coaster.”

Yet even then, Castro continued to hope for a better future. “One of the things that’s been helpful is having the community stand behind us, and knowing my family supports me.”

Castro then pointed to the outpouring of support from Nevada leaders, such as U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D), Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-Las Vegas), and Governor Brian Sandoval (R). “[In Nevada,] we accept people, regardless of sexual orientation, immigration status, or religion. It’s in our values,” Castro said. “Those are true family values. We are making sure families aren’t separated. […] That’s what Nevada is.”

“We are immigrants. LGBTQ people are immigrants. […] We are here. We have to stand up.”
– Leo Murrieta, HRC Nevada
Photo by Andrew Davey

We also spoke with Leo Murrieta from the Nevada chapter of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Murrieta opened up to us about members of his own family being at risk. “We are a mixed-status family. […] I have relatives who are undocumented, one of whom has the DACA program.”

Though Murrieta himself is now a U.S. Citizen, he’s had to initiate difficult conversations with his family about what to do in the coming days. “At any time, my family can be torn apart. It’s scary. […] For me, family is important.”

Murrieta then explained to us why he and HRC are joining the fight to protect DREAMers and their families. “We are immigrants. LGBTQ people are immigrants. […] We are here. We have to stand up.” With as many as 75,000 LGBTQIA DREAMers at risk of deportation with the revocation of DACA, the LGBTQIA community is affected by Trump’s decision just like many other Americans.

Why do these stories matter?

Sergio Hernandez, Erika Castro, and Leo Murrieta are just a few of the many Nevadans who are affected by Trump’s decision to end DACA. As Assembly Member Edgar Flores (D-Las Vegas) stated last Monday, these people are more than just numbers to be included in fact sheets. These people are a part of our community.

The Trump Administration has launched a six-month period during which Congress will consider a legislative fix for DREAMers. Already, the White House has hinted it will use DREAMers as ransom for a border wall and new immigration restrictions. Again, these people are more than just facts, figures, bargaining chips, or “political controversy”. These are our fellow Nevadans, and this is just a few of their stories.

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